12.5 miles, 93.9 overall (Carters Gap shelter)
The day goes by quickly today. I am up and out of camp at 8:30. The first few miles go quickly, but my energy level seems low. I blame the pop tarts for breakfast instead of the normal bagel with peanut butter. UV catches me within the first 2 hours and we hike together up Standing Indian Mtn. We stop at the shelter to have a snack and sign the register, then move on. We summit Standing Indian before 12 and on the way down stop for lunch. Ninja catches us before we leave and the 3 of us hike together the rest of the day. With most of the day being downhill off of Standing Indian, we hit an insanely fast pace of over 3 mph.
Around 1:30 we start to hear thunder. It has been threatening all day, but this time it looks like it is for real. With only 1.5 miles left, mostly uphill, I take off and get to the shelter at 2:00, a full 5-10 minutes before UV and Ninja, who were both slower on the uphill.
Although we made great time I felt off all day. It was probably a product of pushing myself yesterday, but all day my energy felt a little low. We pass the rest of the day drying off and wondering who will make it this far. The rain continues off and on all day. Some section hikers arrive and have decided they are heading home due to injuries. They ask if anyone wants their food. Of course we jump at the chance to eat more. I snag 2 Mountain House dinners and eat them both for dinner.
Around 5:00 the others from our group begin to roll in. Peach is first, followed by Button. We are all amazed she is still able to go this far, but she still plans (smartly in my opinion) to get off the trail in Franklin to heal. The Incredibles are next, and they say Bunny is close behind. Bunny rolls in some time later with a huge smile on her face. Despite the rain she had a great day of hiking, and she tells us she loves coming into camp last and hearing everybody yell her name as she arrives.
It seems the group hasn’t fallen apart quite yet. However several plan to get off the trail in Franklin, even if only for a short time – the Incredibles and Button. Ninja, UV, and myself all plan to hike straight through to the NOC. I’m not sure what Bunny is planning. Whichever way she goes the group will get smaller in the next few days.
Some random musings from my trip so far:
– The approach trail didn’t seem so bad.
– Preparation is key. Lighter is better. Those with heavier gear go fewer miles and have more injuries.
– Exercise beforehand helps. I attribute at least part of my ability to climb well to my gym training. Note to Paula: more calves, hammies and glutes for future hikers!
– Neel’s Gap is pretty awesome. I know it gets some flack, but they fixed problems for a bunch of hikers I’ve talked to, from foot problems to having the wrong gear to just giving some good advice.
– Little things make all the difference. I have dehydrated wet wipes that I rehydrate at night and wipe down with. Makes me feel somewhat cleaner before I get in my sleeping bag. Creature comforts make all the difference on the Appalachian Trail.