After making our way down from Kelly Knob, we figured we'd take a short day to a close by shelter to rejoin our companion Rooster and his pup Bangers. We strolled into the Plum Orchard Creek shelter around noon time and immediately began eating. We have found that hiking requires as much food as you can possibly hold down. Having overpacked in the food department once again, we carelessly cooked little boiling pots of starchy mush all afternoon. Over the course of the day and with the threat of rain (always better to be in a shelter during rain so as to avoid packing a wet tent into your dry food and clothes) we were joined by no less than 14 other hikers (plus us) making for a sum of 19 total, and including 4 young (slightly manic) children. Side bar: the shelter capacity is 14. SO! We were officially overwhelmed by the tightness of this space and the unwavering stupidity of some of the other hikers (not to be judgmental, but there are a few folks out here that just have no concept of etiquette). We have heard tell of shelter mice but until this experience had never seen them ourselves. The etiquette that I refer to includes the practice of hanging one's food on the designated bear cables or from some sort of rope or string (and tree) so as to avoid attracting critters in the night. Some of our not-so-optional compadres decided that this was an unnecessary measure and that they needn't employ the cables/rope. Way to go! It wasn't long before the scurrying, chirping, climbing, scratching noises of shelter mice permeated the little hut. No sleep for those not accustomed to having mice crawl all over them in the night.

When the sun rose, we quickly sucked down some cowboy coffee (grounds and all) and packed up for a doozy of a hike. While making the morning preparations, Bangerang the American bulldog had just a little too much fun playing with one of the other dogs and it quickly became apparent that the little fella could barely walk. He was limping pretty bad and could only put one of his back paws down to sit. A bit of a quandary for a someone 36 miles from a vet (and only 2 feet and a heartbeat to get them there). After much deliberation, rooster and Bangerang made tracks to the nearest road and yellow blazed (drove) to Franklin, NC (our next re-supply).

We trucked on. Not sure if trucking would even describe our pace. We hauled ass. 17 miles later and still with a fair bit of day light we found ourselves stumbling into Beech Gap camp area. It was at about this time that our friend Novy decided to share a few of his feet issues with us. Removing his shoes he exposed what appeared to be two logs of ground beef spotted with duct tape, mole skin and athletic wrap. What a nightmare. 12 blisters exactly. Two of which were twin monsters on each of his big toes (the captain of the toes). Not kidding. These things were no smaller than a cherry tomato and visibly throbbing with every heartbeat. We had no idea. The fella didn't even wince about it. True Canadian Wildabeast. As you might imagine, every med kit in the camp sight was quickly removed and Iinspected for tools, tapes, pads and salves. Brother was the first volunteer to scrub in on the surgery, but we all concluded that it was best not to drain or cut any of the blisters. Multiple open cuts stuffed into nasty hiking boots is an invitation for infection. Needless to say he will be getting some new kicks in Franklin.

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