US 19E to Moreland Gap Shelter – 19.1 miles
Amazing breakfast at 8 this morning followed by a 30-minute nap at 9. Started hiking at 10. Got a cramp on the first uphill. I guess the nap wasn’t enough to let all that breakfast food digest. I didn’t stop until Mountaineer Shelter a bit after 1/1:30 for a snack. I really didn’t feel hungry, but something small would at least hold me over for a while longer. Jones falls was the 1st really cool waterfall I saw on trail. The hiking today was fairly level, so 19 miles wasn’t so bad. I did almost step on a snake though. The animals are definitely waking up. Had some trouble hanging my food bag. There weren’t a lot of good choices and the 1st one I tried was just barely too high for me to throw my rope over. I found a shorter one (probably too short), but at that point, it was good enough.
Mountain Harbor has my favorite breakfast on the entire Appalachian Trail. Tea, coffee, pastries, and any other breakfast food you can think of. All home made and seemingly never ending. It was more food than all the thru hikers there could finish. I ate until I was full and then some…I paid for that later. After breakfast, I had until 9 am to be out of the hostel so I went to my bed to take a nap and try and nap away my full stomach. My body on the trail metabolized food a lot more quickly than off trail so I thought a 30-minute nap would be enough for the food to digest enough for me to start hiking comfortably. It helped some, but I was moving slow from the food and extra sleep I got.
Back on the AT, the trail goes straight up for 2-and-a-half miles. Not fun with a full stomach so I got a cramp in my side. Some stretching and water helped to get rid of that. Within an hour, I was feeling much more awake and less full. It wasn’t until about 9 miles into the day that I finally stopped to take a break and eat some food. I ate enough food this morning that even after 1 pm, I did not feel like I could eat my lunch so I just had a snack – likely a clif bar or some goldfish. Not long before that break, I passed the 400 mile mark. I wasn’t good at following that on my own, but I always saw when I passed another 100 miles on the trail because someone wrote out the mileage number in sticks on the side of the trail. I’m always looking down while hiking because otherwise I’m likely to trip over rocks, roots, and whatever else is on the trail, so it is easy to see a big number spelled out on the side of the trail.
About a tenth of a mile off the trail was a big waterfall. It was the first big one I had seen. All the other ones were barely a few feet tall if that, so this was worth going a little bit off trail to see. I saw my first snake of many on the AT. For whatever reason, they like to hang out either right on the edge of the trail or in this case, directly in the middle of the trail. I almost stepped on it and it scared me once it started moving with my foot right beside it. It was a small and harmless snake, but I still jumped from the surprise of almost stepping on it.
19 miles for the day felt really good. After the fist climb of the day, the ups and down were very gradual so it was easier than usual to get some more miles done. At the campsite, I set up in the shelter, ate some food, and went to find somewhere to hang my food bag. That proved very challenging. The trees were skinny and tall and did not have many branches low enough for me to throw the rope over. I tried – unsuccessfully – at one spot for almost 30 minutes, but the branch was just barely too high for me to get the rope over. The only other spot I could find was a much shorter tree with a branch hanging so low that a bear definitely could have taken my food overnight but at that point, I did not care and used it anyways. It was at least away from the shelter and everyone who was tenting so I wasn’t worried.