April 3, 2000

Bald Mountain Shelter, NC 19 Miles Hiked Today 322 of 2167 Miles Hiked Total

BackroadsLuckily, Dan woke up this morning and made noise or I would have slept forever. Snow and freezing temperatures pending caused me to decide to move it to this shelter, even though 18+ miles with lots of ascents wasn't in the game plan.

Today I realized that a lot of the thrill of the trail itself is gone, but has been replaced with the desire to see and learn what these "trail towns" are like -- part of my original goal of the trail. Maybe its because the trail is monotonous right now. I also need to be challenged by mileage or difficulty. 12+ miles isn't enough, 15+ gets close. Today is a good example: 18.8 miles in 8.5 hours including breaks, with probably close to 4000 feet in elevation changes, made for a challenging but not killer day.

Another cool thing about today was trail magic. First, at Sam's Gap, someone left a cooler with beer, but it was all gone. But later, coming up the bald, someone had left soft drinks, carrots, apples, and dog biscuits. The "trail angel" had hiked last year and claimed he wouldn't have made it with out help from strangers, so was returning the favor. What made it more magical was that just a little earlier I was thinking how much I need vegetables. Amazing! The Dr. Pepper was good, too.

Lastly, today was good because we had scenery changes: farmland, mountains, old barns and fences, and finally, the bald. It is awesome to come out of the woods onto a bald with the clouds and fog rolling in with the wind blasting you in the face. It makes you yell out and smile at the scene and the absurdity of what you are doing.

It is suppose to drop to 27 degrees tonight and highs in the lower 30's tomorrow, so I am heading to Erwin with hopes to arrive by 3:00 to stay at the hostel.

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