Laura and I at the NC/GA border.
Day 10: Today was a great day! We crossed into North Carolina and it feels like we are actually making progress. Only thirteen more states to go! I am still feeling tired at the end of the day, but not like before our zero. Coming into NC we got hit with steep hills right away. It was beautiful weather but felt too hot to hike in! Lots of nice people at the shelter tonight.
Cool tree just after entering NC.
Day 11: Wow, 16.2 miles today! My feet are the most tired. The rest of my body is tired but should be good to go with some rest. The views from Standing Indian Mt. were spectacular! I’m curious if we will hike any of the mountains I could see. Had a hard time finding a tree to hang our bear bags in. Hopefully our food survives the night!
Myself at the outlook on Standing Indian Mt.
Day 12: Today was shorter at just over 12 miles, but my feet needed the rest. We are camping next to a nice stream which should be pleasant to sleep to. Today is the last day the couple from Oregon is on the trail. It is sad to see them leave as they were such nice people! We got some great views from an old weather observatory tower today and some trail magic! I had soda, a sloppy joe, cheese puffs, a nutty bar, an apple and a banana! Yum!
Views from the tower!
Day 13: Today we did a short day, though we meant to go 15 miles. It was raining when we stopped at the shelter for lunch and we heard there was a big group already at the next shelter. Wanting to sleep out of the rain, we decided to stay and hike the miles tomorrow. I’m happy for the short day and to stay dry.
Views before the rain hit!
Day 14: We did 16.5 miles today to reach the Natahala Outdoor Center (NOC). The rain started back up just as we left the shelter around 7:45 AM. We hiked super fast in order to stay warm as the temps were in the low 30’s with rain and wind. We were lucky though, as people just a half hour behind us reported hiking through sleet and freezing rain! We got to the NOC just after four and my knees were not happy with me. However, after a burger, salad, chips and salsa, chili, a brownie sunday, and two beers, I was feeling great. Next came a shower and laundry, which appeased my achy muscles. I’m happy to be staying in the hostel here tonight as it’s been spitting snow and we are only at 1700 feet! Loving life.
Lots of hunger hikers at the NOC!
Day 15: Today was a long but great day! We got up in a warm room and got our packs together. We went to get breakfast, which included 3 eggs, 2 pieces of french toast, home fries, a biscuit, 3 slices of bacon, a cup of fruit, orange juice and coffee. I think we have the hiker hunger! On top of this, we found out that Moe, a fellow hiker from Maine, had bought our breakfast for us! Trail magic from hikers is even better! Stuffed, we resupplied at the general store which pretty much has gas station food. We didn’t get onto the trail until 10 AM! A very late start for us, but that didn’t faze us. We took our time hiking and talking with others along the trail. We got some nice vistas and the sun was out. There was even a warm breeze! We saw evidence of frost and there was ice falling out of the trees as the sun warmed them up. We didn’t get to the shelter until 7PM, so we decided to just eat snacks for dinner to avoid the lengthy cooking process. The bear bag hung easy and I ended the day by watching the sunset. I had to borrow some of Laura’s gear to stay warm over night. The temps got super low and by bag wasn’t cutting it!
Day 16: We woke up late and were some of the last people out of the shelter. I woke feeling well rested and perky. As the day went on, it got very nice out and I decided to listen to some music as I hiked since there wasn’t much to look at. Eventually, we could see Fontana Dam from the trail. Very cool! I started to chafe today… ouch! Hopefully it will heal over our zero day. Staying at the Fontana Lodge tonight and it is very nice. A bit pricey, but not bad. Excited to take a rest day!
Day 17: Rest Day 🙂