Day 42: Mile 271.4 | Journeyman’s House
We packed up our room at the hostel and I went down to the diner to get some takeout breakfast. While it was cooking I went to the Dollar General around the corner to get some more food for my resupply. When I got back to the restaurant to pick up my food and pay they informed me that someone had already paid for my food! I got a free breakfast. I was so thankful. I ate an apple butter sandwich, eggs, bacon, and a huge cinnamon bun. I brought it back to the hostel to eat. I shared with Tang and Miles and then went inside to make sure my pack was ready to go. While I waited for my sister and her boyfriend, who were on her way to Atlanta, GA and stopping in to see me, I accompanied Josh to town where we found a coffee place and some WiFi. I also stopped into the outfitter there and picked up a new pillow since mine had popped in the Smokies.
My sister arrived around noon and picked me up in her packed Mini Cooper. She drove me to Asheville! Because the hostel was so full the night before, we never got to do our laundry and the laundromat in Hot Springs was not highly recommended. Erin took me to the laundromat in Asheville. Once we got the clothes in the washer we went and got milkshakes and fries at Five Guys. It was so nice to see someone from home. Meeting new people all the time and not being around people you know as much can be exhausting. She brought me back to the laundromat and was on her way. At the laundromat I did some blogging while I waited for the dryer.
After I finished my laundry, consolidated my food, organized the gear I picked up in Hot Springs, and posted some photos I went down the street to the running store there to replace my Injinji Liner socks, one of which had gone missing in the Smokies.
Jus’ Runnin’ in Asheville helped me out so much. They helped me pick new liner socks and showed me some new ways to use my muscle roller. They even gave me a Thru-Hiker discount because they see so few thru-hikers!
Josh told me him and Tang had been invited to stay with Journeyman, a former thru-hiker that I met in Franklin, who lives in Asheville they invited me to join them! Ultimate trail magic!
While I waited for them to get to Asheville from Hot Springs I stopped at High Five Coffee and got a really good cold brew. I used the WiFi to download some more podcasts while I charged my phone. Josh, Tang, and Journeyman met me at the coffee shop. We walked around Asheville trying to find a place for dinner, forgetting it was a Saturday night. We ended up at Luella’s where we got some amazing barbecue and a great local IPA. It was a very satisfying dinner.
Back at Journeyman’s House he showed us around the house. He did Josh and Tang’s laundry for them. He shared his home brewed IPA and Stouts with us. He showed us his super cool hiking staff that he made it to Katahdin with that he hand carved himself! He opened up his hot tub on his back porch for us! After the hot tub he showed us to our rooms. Tang took the guest room. Journeyman showed me to his granddaughter’s bedroom with a princess bed. Josh and Murdock took the futon in the basement. I showered and put on my nice clean camp clothes. I slept so well.
Day 43: Mile 275.5 | Campsite by the river @ Hot Springs, NC
In the morning Journeyman and his wife made us the most amazing homemade breakfast. Biscuits, gravy, eggs to order, fruit salad, and coffee in hiker hunger proportions!
The sun peeked through the clouds outside and we were excited to get back to the trail. We took a group photo in Journeyman’s backyard where he has a white blaze painted on a tree:
After breakfast we headed out to Ingles so that Josh and Tang could resupply. I got an iced tea at the Starbucks there and brought a latte out to Journeyman who was waiting in the car. I went back into the store to use the restroom before we left. Once Josh and Tang finished shopping we all piled back into the car and headed back to Hot Springs. TMI ALERT: On the 45 minute drive back I started having the urge to pee... the uncontrollable ‘I just had a large iced tea and two cups of coffee this morning’ I have to pee kind of urge. I tried so hard to hold it until we got to town but it was starting to get painful! Finally I asked Journeyman to pull over. I quickly got out of the car and peed on the side of the road. So embarrassingly necessary. Relieved, we all got back into the car and finally made it into Hot Springs where Josh and Tang packed up their food resupplies.
I went and got an ice cream cone and charged my phone one last time. I stayed in town for a bit longer while Josh set out to find us a cool camp spot. I went over to the outfitter one last time and got cough drops for my recent allergy surge and some KT Tape for my Achilles. I also weighed my pack: still 40lbs.
We camped by the river just out of town next to a huge rock. We at dinner on top of the boulder and watched the sun go down.
Rain clouds rolled in across the town. In a good mood, I headed to bed in my tent.
Day 44: Mile 275.3 | Little Paint Creek
It was rough getting up on this morning. I was so tired, my weekend of supposed ‘relaxation’ was exhausting and kind of stressful for me. It was great to get trail magic from Journeyman but getting to and from Asheville along with all of my chores I had to do, I didn’t sleep much. All day was steep uphill climbing. It was finally warm. I walked, a bit delirious, all day. Tired and slow.
Along the walk this day I was mostly alone, leaving long after Josh but far before Tang. I stopped at a small man made pond about five miles in. I was listening to an episode of Hilarious World of Depression. An episode featuring singer/songwriter/rock extraordinaire Rhett Miller. In the episode Rhett recounts the incident of his suicide attempt, his memories of it, and how he became so successful as a musician. Most importantly, he shared what stopped him: his little sister. His experiences were unbelievably similar to mine. His thought patterns and existential crises exactly as I experienced them. It shocked me. Blown away by this episode, I sat on the bench by this little pond and called home.
I was homesick. All day. I called my mom, then my dad, then my friend. I sat there for a solid hour and a half. Sobbing and trying to pull myself together, I finally got up and walked. It was a sunny day. I wanted to be happy and appreciative but, honestly, I felt tired, weak, uncertain, and homesick. I tried to walk it off.
I ate lunch at a shelter on the way to camp and saw Which Way and Next Step for the first time in a while! Remember them from Sassafras Gap Shelter after NOC? I was glad to see their friendly faces. They were surprised to see me still hiking. They told me they had worried about me for weeks, thinking maybe all of my gear problems had forced me to go home. We were all happy that I proved their worries wrong!
I got to camp that night and set up my tent slowly. Maverick, a hiker Josh knew stumbled upon our campsite and asked if he could join us. We obliged and he set up his tent next to mine.
I chatted with Josh, Tang, and Maverick over dinner and went to bed early. I snuggled into my sleeping bag, realizing I smelled horrible from all of the sweat I produced that day. One day out of town and I already stunk.... I slept on top of a fleece blanket my mom sent me, on top of my sleeping pad, inside my 20 degree sleeping back with my 14 degree bag liner. It was only about 40 degrees this night, I was still chilly.
Day 45: Mile 301.4 | Jerry’s Cabin Shelter
I woke up early and left camp around the same time as Josh. The sun broke through the clouds and a beautiful day shaped up early. I hiked quickly and passed Josh. We walked up and up all day and eventually came to a beautiful ridge with some incredible views. I sat at the top in and sun and soaked it in. Soon, Maverick and Josh caught up to me. We took pictures and chatted with an ATC worker who was also on the ridge. I sat down alone in a small alcove and leaned back on my pack. I ate a Pop-Tart and looked at the scene below me. I watched the clouds go by. I fell asleep in the sun on that ridge for a god twenty minutes. When I woke up I felt so rejuvenated. I didn’t even realize how exhausted I was!
We had planned to go a little bit further but when we arrived at Hogback Ridge Shelter, Maverick and I being the first of our group to arrive, we decided we kind of wanted to just camp there. The water sources in the next few miles were unclear and we were about to go up a hill with an impending thunderstorm threat. We weren’t sure about this thunderstorm because the sky had been so clear! Maverick and I began setting up and Josh and Tang soon rolled in and followed suit.
We all gathered around some logs and set up Tang’s Luci light on a trekking pole to eat dinner while we watched the clouds roll in. After eating I rolled out Tang’s legs and Maverick’s legs. Maverick rolled out mine after. The pain of rolling your legs is absolutely awful but it makes such a difference in the long run.
I went to bed early and fell asleep reading Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.