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Day 17 20.2 Miles
I told myself after the last 20 mile day never again until VA but today I cranked another one out leaving me about 3 miles shy of Hot Springs which is my resupply. I’ve decided since Hot Springs is trail noteworthy of taking a nero day there and eat some real food and stay at a nice hostel before Erwin, TN.
Today was a long day. Early in the morning I hiked up and over Max Patch Mtn, the views were beautiful as always. I think this makes trip number five for me for Max Patch. Stayed for a bit looking at the scenery and also to use the cellular device, good service ontop of Max Patch. In the morning my mind was thinking about being a human being and not just a human doing. Every time when we introduce ourselves to somebody in town we usually always state our occupation, what about what we are being or becoming being more important? Anyways, just getting deep once again. Had lots of time to think while on the trail, guess that’s a good thing. Right now I’m hiking solo so it’s even more so.
Had lunch right before hiking up Bluff Mountain. Glad I came from the right side because the descent was super long. Down, down, down. My knees slightly hurt because of it. Couple younger guys trying to prove themselves past me on the descent, what’s the rush man?
Finally made it into camp with about 2.5 hrs of daylight, perfect timing to hang a bear line, cook some food, and just sit and stretch. Tomorrow I will be in Hot Springs, maybe soaking up some of that geothermal water. Ahhh it will feel good to take a break tomorrow.
Day 16 10.6 Miles
Due to all the cold, snowy weather and multiple gate closings yesterday at Newfound Gap I made a decision to push on past the Smokies and begin the trail back up at Davenport Gap this morning. I wasn’t going to wait around for however how long it will take the Park Service to open the road back up. I soon found out around 11 or so once I pretty much got to Davenport that the road was back open. Oh well, I will just have to come back and hike that section. I’ve thru hiked the whole Smokies section before just not in the same year to be called a thru hike. When I get back in October I will be close enough by in Knoxville to finish what I missed.
Sadly, I left Ashlie at the I40 crossing and said my goodbyes, this time it was a lot harder. The section of Max Patch coming up in the next day is a section where we both camped out for the night once upon time. The memory is still strong, so it will be hard as a pass.
The climb getting up to Snowbird Mountain was a beautiful ascent. The days weather was crystal clear skies and sunny with a slight wind from the west. Passed by a trail magic station before climbing the mountain, but because I just resupplied last night, there was no need for me to collect the food the people had to offer. Other people behind me were the ones that really needed it. I kept moving on. At the top of Snowbird there is an alien like structure the FAA built for radio control mapping. The bald on top was a change in scenery from the hardwood forests below. The descent down Snowbird was gentle into Groundhog Creek Shelter but I kept moving a couple miles north to Brown Gap where I cowboy camped for the night. I threw my tarp above me in an A-frame style but wrapped the ends near my head end to block the wind. So maybe the shape is more properly called caternary?
Looking forward to the climb up to Max Patch in the morning.