Waiting for three weeks to take my first zero was not the best idea ever. BTW, a zero is a day in which no miles are hiked. It just sort of happened this way, due to logistics.
It seems like everyone around me is falling apart, including myself. It’s mostly just that my body is really tired, but also I had sore ankles today, which has happened exactly never.
We pushed hard through this fucking brutal section though. Almost 100 miles in seven days, with no neros, the two intense climbs out of the NOC and Fontana, and two 15s and one 16. Like champs! Okay, but let’s start at the beginning. Franklin, NC treated us well. We had Yeti beer at Outdoor 76, Life Saver caught up with us, and we slept on REAL beds at Gooder Grove. This is a new hostel opened up by this chill dude named Colin. He’s in the process of turning his garage/basement into a bunkroom. There was rain for the first time on our day out of Franklin, which happened to be my first 15. Postman and I were ONE MILE from the shelter when it just started pouring. We got soaked. It was beautiful all day before that, though… …as was the next morning during a quick hike into the NOC, during which I caught up with #1. The bubble we’d been in kind of coalesced at the NOC, with the addition of Happy, Fury, Crash, and Glider. (Postman didn’t make it into the picture 😟) We’d all stayed in bunks (or on the floor) at the NOC, drinking beer and making a ruckus until long after hiker midnight (9pm, when it gets dark enough to justify sleeping).
All I remember from the NOC to Fontana was running from the rain. Actually running. Imagine a buff dude in an action movie running from an explosion.
And this weird shrine.
Fontana was mostly disappointing except for some trail magic beer. Thank disc golfing dudes with the cute dog!
I’m remembering a surprising number of details from two years ago. Like the exact shelter and the exact spot where a guy I’d been hiking with got yelled at by a ridge runner for attempting to graffiti his name (which was Snafu).
I’ve totally run out of steam finishing this shit up, so here’s Rocky Top, a fake candid hiker evening, Snow as a lunch lady, a handicapped privy, and no view from Clingman’s. Mostly a whole lot of WTF.
Last thing, injury roundup! Woo fun yay not. My knee has been quite good, basically not sore at all. Probably because I started taking ibuprofen this week, but I’m hoping to wean off of it this next section. I tore my feet up hiking in wet socks and shoes into the NOC. No blisters at all, just tender red skin, which I’ve dealt with before. I taped them up for a few days and it seems to be all healed up now. Oh, and also some ass chafing (TMI, whatever, don’t care) and a partially torn off half a big toenail (kicked a door, so dumb, then pushed it back into place and have been taping it). That is to say, my body has been holding up real well, and that’s not sarcastic at all.
Sorry if the formatting of these posts have been wonky, the WordPress app is kind of a jerk.
Gatlinburg, where I’m zeroing, is such a trip.