Monday, June 8, 2015

Day 35: Goodbye, North Carolina!

April 11: The morning started cold, but it was nothing that we hikers weren’t accustomed to. I was among the first to be packed and hit the trail. It immediately climbed up to a view of the barn shelter and the rest of the hikers who were still packing up. The trail didn’t stop climbing, though. No, it continued over Little Hump and Hump Mountains with incredible 360-degree views. Although the day was clear and gorgeous, the wind was strong and keeping my balance was among the day’s challenges. To make things more exciting, the trail also had a lot of rocks and roots to trip over.

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We woke up to a beautiful, clear day! Although it was a little cold and more than a little windy!

After a couple of hours, the trail ducked back into the woods and the great views disappeared. Occasionally we’d still get an occasional partial view, but the sweeping vistas that hikers live for largely came to an end.

Later in the morning, I passed a couple of guys who were marking the trail with small flags and I immediately recognized it as a trail crew. I joked about, “Oh, this is great! Does this mean you’re removing all of the rocks and roots from the trail!”

I was trying to be funny—to a degree, at least. The Appalachian Trail is infamous for its rocks and difficulty, at least in parts, but I was surprised when they told me that yes, that’s in fact what they were doing! Maybe they were joking in return?

I continued on, but there was a small part in the back of my head thinking, “That one guy in particular looked familiar.” Like I had seen him before. But who? Where? Which is when I suddenly realized who he was—Bob Peoples! I’d never actually met the man before, but he runs the Kinkora hostel and regularly organizes work parties and brings hikers to the trail for a little trail work. I didn’t stay at his hostel during my last thru-hike, but he was interviewed in Appalachian Impressions and that’s why he looked so familiar. He was a trail legend! I should have gotten an autograph!

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That’s the Overmountain Shelter where we camped for the night far below. =)

Rather than backtrack, however, I kept going forward where I passed a dozen or so other people who had just started ripping dirt from the uphill side of the trail and were pushing down onto the rocks and roots of the trail. Yes, they were indeed removing the rocks and roots from the trail, but it appeared that they were burying them rather than removing them.

Just past the volunteers was Doll Flats and a sign announcing that we were leaving North Carolina. At this point, the trail finally turns away from the North Carolina-Tennessee border and enters fully into Tennessee. It was official: two states done and twelve left to be completed!

The rest of the day was relatively easy and uneventful. The trail passed near Jones Falls, so I made the side trip to check it out and admired the splendid waterfall. Near the end of the day, it passed by Mountaineer Falls, a less scenic waterfall but one that didn’t require going off trail to see.

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Chanty and Salty head up Little Hump Mountain.

For the night, I crashed in the Mountaineer Shelter, just a short ways beyond Mountaineer Falls. (The falls were actually the water source for the shelter.) The shelter was a new one since my previous hike and had three levels to it, which is only notable because as I climbed the ladder to the second level, I bumped my shin on a rung and it started bleeding profusely. I didn’t even hit my shin very hard, but it was sensitive already from previous bangs walking over logs across the trail. It had bled a little then and scabbed up, but this time when I banged my shin, it ripped the scabs right off.

I didn’t think anything of it at first and continued climbing up to the third level of the shelter to set up camp. I pulled out my emergency blanket to lay out as a ground sheet and started throwing my gear onto it when I noticed a reddish-colored liquid near a corner and thought, “What is that? It looks like blood!” I scratched my head for about 5 seconds trying to think when blood might have gotten onto it before I remembered banging my shin on the way up. I pulled up the leg of my pants to check it out and saw blood dribbling down my legs. Not a river of blood by any stretch, but I hadn’t even realized I was bleeding at all so it was still somewhat of a shock.

I left my pant legs rolled up to allow the blood to clot and so it would stop soaking into my pants, but otherwise left it to itself. It wasn’t serious!

The shelter turned out to be remarkably empty for the night—just Mrs. Dash and myself slept in it while everyone else who showed set up tents nearby. I spent much of the evening reading Midnight Rising about John Brown’s raid in Harpers Ferry. It was my “homework assignment” so I’d be ready to understand what all happened there when I passed through the town later on the trail. =)

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Incredible, gorgeous views!

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These sections are among some of the most scenic portions of the A.T.

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This is Loner Boner’s third A.T. thru-hike! He doesn’t walk fast, but he is persistent!

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It’s official: North Carolina is now DONE!

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Uh-oh! There’s a bear closure ahead! Not something we have to worry about for today, but it’ll be coming up soon.

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I guess one hiker decided he’d had enough of the trail and threw out his boots!

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Occasionally, I’d see signs of spring starting to show. This tree was all flowers. *nodding*

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Karaoke ponders the meaning of life on this bald.

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The trail skirted around the edge of a small cemetery. I always tell other hikers that that’s where they bury the thru-hikers who “didn’t make it.”

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Butterflies were everywhere, but they’re notoriously difficult to get photos of because they’re always flitting around so quickly. I got this one, though!

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Jones Falls

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The injury isn’t as bad as it looks!

5 comments:

The V's said...

Arrg! Where's the eye bleach? I knew you would post pictures of that bloody shin and I scrolled all the way down anyway! Ack! :-)

Anonymous said...

ick - also saw Chemin le Puy rash today. Too much lol.

Karolina Śmiech said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Karolina Śmiech said...

Did you start using emergency blankets as groundsheet on a regular basis after WHW??

Ryan said...

No, I don't use emergency blankets as a groundsheet on a regular basis--but it does seem to be a regular occurrence when I find myself without my regular groundsheet!