I See The Light!
To date, I’ve walked around 55 miles, 40 on the trail 15 off, in 3 days and a morning. On the trail, I think an average day will be around 15 miles, as it has a lot of climbs and descents. For me, the descents are the harder parts as I find them hard on the joints but all in all I’m pretty happy with how the body is coping.
The weather is interesting. The first day was beautiful sunshine and I reveled in it. The second day, we were completely enclosed with mist and it rained intermittently. However when I climbed Blood Mountain, which was the high peak of the day, I cleared the mist into sunshine, which was an amazing contrast. The mist returned as soon as I descended however.
On the second night, I shared my campsite with a couple of girls and we were sharing stories of the day and remarked at what a change it was coming out of the mist on Blood Mountain. When I had got to the top, there was a large Christian group that were on a youth group outing. As I was talking to the girls, I said something along the lines of maybe the youth group had managed to ‘claim the light’ and clear the mist.
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The girls gave me a weird look and for the life of me I don’t know whether it was because they were religious and I had offended their sensibilities, or if they had taken my statement at face value and thought I was some sort of evangelist. Either way, the conversation kind of ended and I was left wondering if my sense of humour would get me in trouble here in the US.
Back onto the trail. the weather was cold on the third day but clear and I managed to get some amazing mountain vista views. That really is what is giving me the buzz as I’m walking. The countryside is extremely pretty and it’s quite exhilarating walking along a saddle and seeing the rolling mountain range on either side. Don’t get me wrong, the walking is quite hard yakka and the descents and ascents are hurting. I have confidence however that my body is going to adapt to the strain and it feels so good to be out in the fresh air just walking.
It’s true that I’ve already come off the trail after only three days, but that was because I knew that I was behind on updating this blog and I thought it would be a good idea to have a clean up. That is one thing of the trail so far, I haven’t come across a stream big enough to wash in. Most of the water I’ve found is from pipe springs that have been set up for hikers. That’s all well and good for drinking water but I was kind of expecting to be able to wash in streams which does mean I’m going to get very smelly over the course of this trip.
I’m currently in a town called Helen which is a tourist town where all the buildings and businesses have a Bavarian or Swiss theme. It’s kind of like a cross between Sovereign Hill meets Oktoberfest although I can’t ever remember seeing a Wendy’s in Bavaria.
Today I arrived in Franklin, the last place to formally surrender in the Civil War, nominally because they didn’t have a telegraph office and didn’t know that the war was over, but I reckon they just weren’t quitters.
This is going to have to be a short update because I only have a 30 minute allocation on the computer. I’ll try and push the limits a little but I’ll recount the last few days.
Firstly, Helen. I didn’t have to hike to and from the town as Southerners are very forthcoming with hiking hitchhikers. In fact, the guy who gave me a lift back to the trail was very apologetic because he picked me up in a little Honda coupe.
“I’ve got a F150 back home but I drive this little fellow around town to save gas,” he explained, erasing any embarrassment I may have held to be a passenger in such a small car. Americans love their big cars and Larry was a fifth generation Georgian so he made sure I knew he had a big car.
Anyway I digress, after writing up my blog in Helen, I went to get something to eat. I walked past a number of colourfully Bavarian restaurants but I didn’t feel too comfortable eating on my own there, so I ended up walking into a pub. I ordered my meal and a beer, then saw a guy go up onto the stage. The TV started scrolling the words he was about to sing and the horror hit me. Yes, I’d walked into karaoke night.
The guy finished his song and he was the compere. He urged me onto the stage. I warned him, but since I’d finished my first beer and hadn’t had anything to eat since breakfast, so I caved in and went onstage to butcher ‘The Gambler’. After I’d finished the song to the stunned reception of the crowd, my meal arrived and I got to finish it in peace. There weren’t any calls for an encore.
I got back onto the trail the next morning after doing a little shop and sending some superfluous items that I didn’t want to throw away to my parents (Mum, please don’t throw away that t shirt) and then I continued walking again to warnings that a cold front was coming in.
Walking was good apart from my left hamstring which was giving me grief whenever I went downhill. It got so tender that I started to walk backwards downhill and decided to finish my day early at 4 pm to give it some rest. Following the RICE formula – rest, ice, compression, elevation, I decided to sleep on a downward slant to give the leg elevation which had the interesting effect of me waking up every other hour and sliding back up the tent. Still the hammy was better the next day so I think my quickfix worked. If Emmanuelle (my yoga teacher) is reading this, I know she would be screaming. “Treeevor, your Humstrings” (she’s French).
The cold front came through that night and brought the ‘ice’ portion into medication. I mean, it was cold. There was water, on the trail which had frozen into water crystals, without the help of a freezer. out in the open.
The couple that I camped next to that night, April and Fool, who started their hike on the first, said the temperature was around 30. I expressed my disbelief seeing as I know what 30 degrees is like and they explained that they meant Fahrenheit which must mean at least -30 degrees Celsius.
Anyway my time is up, so I’ll try and add more later.
Today, Franklin. Next town stop is hopefully Fontana which is around 54 miles away.
As I was walking I thought I might make a list of all the campsites I stay at and their mileage, seeing as I have an extremely useful guideblog (The A.T. Guide) that marks the mileage.
I should be able to constantly edit it along the walk. Names are intriguing.
Hey all, back in from the well … sunshine!
I know the short last post I had complained a little about the weather but the truth is that I’ve been blessed with beautiful weather, pretty much the whole trail.
Apart from the cold mornings and the one misty day, it’s been constant sunshine and I’ve even had
a chance to wear my blue singlet on numerous occasions.
Once again I may be pressed for time on the computer. I’m currently at Fontana Lodge, a beautiful and well spaced out lodge at the base of the Smokey Mountains. There is one computer terminal at the guest lounge which I’m monopolising and seeing as I’m not even a guest, I don’t know how long I will have it for.
As for the shape of this blog, I’m thinking I’ll keep updates on where I’m at as I come across these computers with limited access and then do big writeups when I find a machine that I can spend some time on.
The plan for my next week is, the ‘Smokey Mountains’. There’s only one town on the way (Gatlinburg) and I don’t know if I’ll drop into it, so I’ve bought up seven days worth of food and have set my sights on Hotsprings which has a library with computer/with computer access..
There is a good chance that you won’t hear from me for a week but I’ll try my best to make up for it once I hit the ‘ Springs’.
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