Tuesday, June 28, 2011 / 4:32 pm / Falls Branch Falls
Nearing the end of a MUCH better day. I’ve been making very good time with my 90 minute/leg system. Usually I will clock exactly 3 miles in 90 minutes. Even last month, with a lighter pack on the less-strenuous AT, I was spot-on 30 minutes/mile. But this trip I am getting 3.5 miles or thereabouts. Today I finished 14 miles by 3:15.
Up a little before 6:00, on the trail by 7:06. The first climb up in to fog on Deadennen Mountian…I could never quite reach the fog…just weird light in the trees, until I broke through on top and the forest was crystal clear and the fog was below me. I saw the first of several deer, a spotted Bambi that startled & bounded away just a few feet off the trail. First break 1/2 mile past Wilscot Gap. Second break at Garland Gap, 10:50. Left there at 11:45 – call that one lunch break. The ascents today were brutally steep. Stairs steep. I think I strained my left Achilles. At Garland Gap I took some Tylenol, and also plastered the balls of my feet with moleskin and filled my socks with Gold Bond to combat some hot spots. I’ll run out of moleskin tomorrow, but luckily I have duct tape….the hiker’s remedy.
Next leg was Garland Gap to Shallowford Bridge. I could hear the vacationers below me hooting and hollering as they lazy-tubed down the Toccoa. There is a little store at Shallowford Bridge so I took a break there and had a coke. Last leg was 3 miles on a paved road, its relative flatness a welcome relief for my achilles. Not so nice on my hot feet. When I turned on to the trail at Falls Branch, I recognized it as a place we visited with the family before, when we rented a cabin in Blue Ridge. At the top of the falls a perfect camp site. An ending like this makes all the difference. As of setting up camp I have surpassed my previous longest hike. Usually its 2 nights on the trail bracketed by a short in-day and out-day filled with exit strategy logistics, shuttles and car juggling. If it started to suck like yesterday, I could say “just one more day”. Part of my disillusion yesterday was realizing “I’ve signed on for a whole week of this??“. Add to that the panicked feeling of not being able to find water all day, spending 2 hours looking for & fetching water before being able to settle in to camp, and the creepy vibe of the non-camp site. Swinging creekside with a mug of tea, with hours fo daylight left and no further obligations….is more like it. (Rooibos is my comfort tea.)
I packed way too much food. I’m going through my trail mix and jerky at half the rate planned. And so far with late lunches and stressed evenings I have not been hungry at dinner time. I will reach my cache by mid-day tomorrow, but most of it will get left behind. I’ll pick it up on the way home.
- Nail clippers
- Needle (I ditched the sewing kit in the last gram-weenie exercise. Sewing is for girls! …I have duct tape and paracord!)
- Remove hard cover from journal and replace with duct tape