Sunday, August 4, 2013
Start: Reliance, TN | Finish: Thunder Rock Campgrounds | Miles: 17.4 | Total: 195.0
I was ready to go at 8, but decided to have some breakfast – eggs, coffee – so I didn’t hit the trail till 8:45 or so. The first leg to Lost Creek campground was nice, along a “wild & scenic” creek with cascades (why no pictures?? I don’t know… 😦 ). At one point there was a huge tree that had fallen. The crown was across the trail, and because the trail was on an embankment, it was very difficult to navigate. Had to climb down the embankment, then actually climb the tree, limb by limb, such that you came out on the other side.
There were some boring spells – the obligatory 1.3 miles on the overgrown FSR … knee deep clover & weeds on a hard gravel base, with no path through. Lunch at Piney Flats Branch, a scenic bottom. Then climbed through another burn zone.
Mid afternoon I discovered cell service on top of Dry Pond Lead. The first since Newton Bald in the Smokies, 10 days ago (wow! 10 days! – no wonder I’m so melancholy… ) . I spent an hour there texting Aimee and Jason – a HUGE spirit lifter!! – , checking weather (chance of scattered thunder storms beginning Tuesday), etc. Then an easy 2 hour descent to Thunder Rock.
Thunder Rock closes the loop on my 2011 hike. I am an official “300 miler”. Now to make it a “Through”!
I started getting what may be a shin splint on my right shin. But it’s on the outside of the bone – I always thought actual shin splints were on the inside, so it may just be a cramped muscle. Very painful, though. The sides of my forefoot, big toe side, are getting hot spots now.
Looking at the coming week, I could be home by Saturday, but definitely by Sunday.
This camp site (Thunder Rock) is much louder than I recalled, due to the truck traffic on Highway 64, and the engine braking for the turns. This would make the third time I have passed through here, and the second time camping. My 2011 BMT section ended here, and in the fall or 2012 I stayed here on the way to KY on a motorcycle trip.
The cicadas here sound like sirens. Camp is very uncrowded. Met a retired couple from Florida who is planning to through the Continental Divide Trail on mountain bikes, and are here testing out all their new gear. Literally – their camp site is littered with packaging like it’s Christmas morning! This week they are whitewater kayaking, and next week a bug-eating wilderness survival course. Interesting. And very nice.
My feet really hurt.