I woke up after about 5 miles of hiking yesterday after my 3 zeros in Damascus and my body said REALLY?! I thought you were done with this crazy idea of walking from Georgia to Maine, nope-guess not. Guess your still going. I hobbled around like an 80 year old before my body muscles got on the same page as my crazy brain muscle. Popped the daily 2 Advil liquid gels and I was ready to go! The day was gorgeous and just when my stomach was rumbling for my (hour after breakfast) snack-I stuffed my face with a Cliff bar and saw a few cars in a gap...and quite a few people...trail magic! Spike, Big Cheese, Rennisance, Shaun, John, Chef, ManBear, and others were there too! Big thanks to Mary and Tank and from Billville for the scrambled eggs, bacon, oranges, bananas, Gatorade, beer, KFC, and hot sauce! My spirits were lifted and I was feeling inspired after seeing old friends in Damascus and I wanted to make some miles. What I didn't know then was Roan Mountain was a beast! I hiked alone and just pushed myself up there. Every once in awhile I'd cross paths with ManBear, or Dexter, but then I was off. It was exhausting. I reached the shelter at the top which is actually the highest shelter on the Appalachian Trail and decided to get some water, make some tea, and hang out a bit. Johnny Walker, Barticus, Rennisance, and a couple others showed up and we hung out and I touched up Barticus and Johnny Walker's nails, and painted Rennisance's. I decided to move on and hike down Roan, going down was a bunch of loose gravel switchbacks-not ideal, but I was moving. I came to the road crossing, crossed the road and up the first bald I went, it was pretty hot, but the view back at Roan Mountain was crazy-to think I was just up there! I walked with Rennisance for awhile and then let him carry on...yes let him, he's another over 6' guy that one stride is about 50 for me! He's really cool though, I enjoy talking with him-I wish our strides matched better but that's the magic of the trail I suppose, there's always nice people in front or behind. We got to a shelter, but it was not THE shelter, and what I mean by the shelter is the converted barn that is a must see/stay. So I prepped my rice in my jetboil, clipped it to my side belt, and hiked the final 1.9 or so miles with it soaking on my side. My stomach would grumble with every breeze that blew the chicken rice aroma my way! Before I was ready to pull to the side of the trail and have a few bites, I saw the sign for the shelter .3 miles down-I decided to wait. I walked up to the shelter which was set right on the side of the mountain in a valley. I put down my pack where my tent would be, and sat and inhaled my rice in front of a nice sunset. After satisfying my stomach I set up my tent, Rennisance was setting up to the right of me and was excited to wake up to a beautiful sunrise. We mingled around the shelter fire for a bit, caught up with Flipper and Big Cheese and then decided to turn in for the night. Rennisance told me he would wake me up for the sunrise, I hope he's serious because I need to see at least one sunrise out here! Me being a late sleeper and all!
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