11-29-12

Days since my thruhike began: 225
AT miles hiked today: 20.1
Total AT miles hiked: 2047.1
Miles to complete my thruhike: 137.1

Karen fed us yummy food last night and set us up on soft couches and dropped us off this morning. We got on the trail at 7:40am and hiked until 7:30pm. I passed a hunter sitting in shrubbery on the side of the trail. He had his rifle and was wearing camo and an orange hat. Eagle Eye saw him first and said hello and I didn't know who she was talking to. I sometimes watch the ground so carefully that I don't notice what is around me. But if I don't watch the trail, I fall. Somebody wrote in a register, "Don't you hate it when you miss the forest for the trail?" I know just what they meant.

I met Corey in a parking area on the BRP. He was waiting for his friend, Six String, who started a sobo hike from Mt Katahdin, then flipped down to Springer and headed north. He finishes in the Shennies (nickname for Shenandoahs) in about a week. Corey was helping him slackpack. Not long after that I met Six String heading north. All of us are so close to finishing our thruhikes, and all of us are slackpacking today. Awesome.

Eagle Eye was dizzy and nauseated, and having a hard time today. I think she was probably dehydrated. We considered bailing out early, but she revived after a long lunch break at Wilson Creek Shelter plus a couple liters of water and some electrolytes. I like the area around that shelter, though water was not close.

There were lots of uphill climbs this afternoon, and a very cold wind on top of the ridge. Eagle Eye had to go back for a lost fleece glove, and I went back up the ridge, too, just to keep moving so I wouldn't freeze in the wind. She came back with the glove and as we hiked back down the ridge in the deepening dusk I saw city lights in all directions. It was beautiful. Once I was down the side of the ridge and out of the wind, the night hike became quite pleasant and the trail was sweet and nicely graded. Flowing down the trail in the narrow path of light from my headlamp was like walking in a dream. Then the nearly full moon came up huge on the horizon. It was a beautiful night hike. I would do that again on purpose, for fun.

It was getting closer to 8pm and we didn't want Karen to have to come any later, so we decided to end early, at the road to Troutville. I also have developed a pack sore on my lower back. I didn't even feel the chafing until I was almost there but I wore my rain coat all day, to block the cold wind, and I sweated much more than normal. I've been hiking in the raincoat for several days and I normally don't, so I'm sure that contributed. I had Eagle Eye put New Skin on the pack sore, which burns horribly when the skin is raw, but is quite effective at protecting and preventing more chafing. New Skin is my answer to almost every skin issue on the AT, except blisters. I think I need moleskin for my blisters because they hurt so much when I walk and they aren't getting better, but my knee brace worked perfectly and I had almost no pain from my knee today. Phew!

It is so nice to hike 20 miles and then be able to come inside, shower, and be warm. Karen is a wonderful trail angel. Thank you for welcoming us into your house again.