4/10/2018 – Day 32

Overmountain Shelter to US 19E – 6.9 miles

1 month on the trail. Commemorated with sunny skies and a relatively warm day. Really windy coming over the balds, but with beautiful views. Had a bad fall coming down one of them and landed on my hand. Nothing is badly hurt, but I definitely twisted my wrist a bit. It hurts to move it too much. Packing my bag is going to be really slow for the next week. When I got to the monument on top of the bald, I played some pBone and one of the guys who stayed at the shelter with me took a video and picture. Waiting for him to send it to me. Made it to Mountain Harbor before 11:30. I mentioned my mom and Andy and the owners immediately recognized my mom’s name. They added a food truck to the hostel, and I got a BBQ/bacon burger with fries that was amazing and then some nachos later on. Braden and Rachael got here last night too! Around 5:30ish. There are 2 overweight cats, at least 4 dogs, and a goat that are all super friendly. Crazy Brit and his son stayed here too. I got 2 Heinekens from them! Very excited for breakfast in the morning!

I was sad to hike away from Overmountain Shelter but happy to be hiking towards Mountain Harbor today. I had a beautiful 7 miles to hike over balds. It was very cold overnight so the trees and ground were all covered in frost. The sun came out quickly though, melting a lot of the frost. I was happy for the warmth from the sun but soon realized that the melting frost was making the trail very muddy and slippery. I had a lot of close falls going up and over those hills.

At the top of Hump Mountain, there is a plaque built into a rock commemorating Stan Murray. When the Appalachian Trail was first completed in 1937, a lot of it was on private property and there were concerns that without federal protection, it would go away. Stan Murray did a lot of work to protect the AT and especially Roan Mountain and the balds in the Highlands of Roan where his plaque now lays. It was at this spot that I stopped briefly to pull out my pBone and play some music. 360 degree views and sunny made it the perfect venue. I later got pictures from another hiker who came up over Hump Mountain as I was playing. He tried to get a video too, but you could not hear any sound. Hiking on from Hump Mountain, I slipped on a particularly bad patch of mud and caught myself with my hand. Not good. The fall was hard enough to cover one side of me in mud and twist my wrist. Thankfully with nothing broken, I continued on and was able to stay on my feet the rest of the way to the hostel.

Mountain Harbor hostel is a special place for my family. Before thru hiking, I had stayed at the hostel once with my mom and a second time we left her car there while we went on a section hike. My mom has been there more than I have and even met my step dad – Andy – at the hostel. She stayed there with a hiker meetup group that Andy was also with and the hostel was accidentally over booked. My mom and Andy ended up having to share a room in the main house with one of them sleeping in the bed and one in a cot and by November 2016, they were married. Checking into the hostel I mention my mom’s name and the owner immediately recognized her and even had a story about another couple who met there and got married.

Mountain Harbor is a big house with a lot of animals including 2 cats, 4 dogs, and a super friendly goat. I always had something to do because there was always one animal that required attention. The hostel had some new additions just this year including a food truck that I took full advantage of. A hiker named Crazy Brit who I had met the day before while getting trail magic was at the hostel too and had Heineken with him! He let me have some while I told him about my time studying abroad in Ireland and backpacking around Europe.

Later on Rachael and Braden made it to the hostel but had to tent because all of the hostel beds were taken. I got some more food with them at the food truck and made sure to tell them to splurge on the breakfast that the hostel offers. Mountain Harbor BnB and Hostel will always have one of my favorite breakfasts. It is all homemade, AYCE, and absolutely delicious! Worth every penny!

Playing my pBone by the Stan Murray plaque.

4/9/2018 – Day 31

Campsite to Overmountain Shelter – 21.9 miles

Woke up to the sound of snow still falling, so I had little motivation to get out of my sleeping bag and tent. Didn’t leave camp until 8:10am. Made it to Overmountain by 6. It wasn’t snowing for long and thankfully it didn’t really rain. It was mainly just foggy all day and almost no wind. The last time I did this section a couple of years ago with mom, it was warm, but there was also a thunderstorm that created a lot of fog. Not too different this time except for the cold. I even missed the same sharp turn in the trail as last time. This time because I was hiking and talking with a guy – S’mores and neither of us noticed a problem until we got to a road with no white blaze. Looking forward to getting to Mountain Harbor tomorrow!

I woke up to the sound of snow falling on my tent and immediately let myself close my eyes for a little bit longer in hopes the snow would stop long enough for me to pack up. That was not the case so eventually I got myself moving (mostly because I always have to pee really bad in the morning), grabbed my food bag, and ate my breakfast in my tent. Yes, you are not supposed to eat food in your tent because of the smell but I could not care less at that point so that’s what I did (insert shrugging emoji here). After packing up all of my things inside my tent, I hit the sides of my tent to knock off as much snow as I could before getting out and packing away a vey wet and very cold tent. As I was strapping my backpack on, the other hiker staying at this campsite poked his head out of his tent. Both of us had slow mornings that day.

This section on the AT to Mountain Harbor was a familiar one to me. I had section hiked it with my mom – Italian Ice – a few years earlier. Roan Mountain was a well known spot on the AT because of amazing views and at the top is the Roan High Knob Shelter which is the highest shelter in elevation on the AT. Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to see any views the first time I hiked over Roan Mountain because there was a thunderstorm for the entire day that did not end until we got to Overmountain Shelter for the night. The thunderstorm also caused my mom and I to miss a sharp turn in the trail – that we were also warned about – because our heads were down to shield our faces from the rain. We did not realize our mistake until we came out to a road a few tenths of a mile later and not finding any trails or white blazes on the other side of the road, we remembered the warning we were given.

Back to 2018 when I was thru hiking, this day I would also be hiking over Roan Mountain. Thankfully there was no thunderstorm and the snow stopped after a short while but because of the snow earlier in the day, it was very foggy so I still have yet to see the amazing views of Roan Mountain. The other hiker that stayed at the campsite with me was a very fast hiker so he was ahead of me at this point. Halfway up Roan Mountain, I passed by him taking a break at a campsite. Up and over the top of the climb, he had caught back up to me and we hiked together for a while chatting about our lives. His trail name is S’mores. I don’t remember the full story of how he got his trail name but basically he ended up at some random campsite of (I think) non-thru hikers who were making S’mores. They invited him to join and because of his hiker hunger and love of s’mores, he ate a shit ton of them and thus ended up with the trail name S’mores. S’mores if you are reading this, let me know if I remembered this correctly!

Engrossed in conversation as we were coming down the other side of Roan Mountain, we ended up coming out on a road and I immediately realized that I did it again. I missed the sharp turn. I recounted the story of when this happened to my mom and I to S’mores as we turned around to find our way back to the AT. This second time around, I saw that there were a few long and skinny branches laid across the trail to show that there is a turn there. If you aren’t paying close attention – like S’mores and I – it would be easy to miss. Back on the correct trail, S’mores and I continued trading stories until he eventually pulled ahead of me.

There was one more shelter to pass by before I got to Overmountain Shelter. When I got to it I saw S’mores again looking like he wanted to stay there. I told him about the next shelter that was less than 2 miles away and he decided to hike the rest of the way with me. Overmountain Shelter is a large 2 story converted red barn that can fit up to 30 people. It has 2 sleeping platforms at the bottom separated by a picnic table and a ladder in the back leading up the enclosed 2nd floor with 1 small window. It was still really cold that day and we could hear some other hikers up on the 2nd floor so S’mores and I headed up there to set up our sleeping pads and bags. S’mores had met one of the hikers up there already – it is very common to run into hikers you know but haven’t seen for a while. Another hiker up there went by the trail name Pyromaniac because she liked fire and setting things on fire…thankfully she refrained from doing that here except to cook her food. I found out that the day before, Pyro had heard from her trail family that was behind her that they were trying to catch up to her. To slow down her pace she hiked only 4 miles to Overmountain Shelter and has already camped there for a day and a half and said she was planning on staying there until her friends caught up. That’s some real dedication to a trail family.

Before it got dark, I made sure to use the privy to pee before going to sleep. I wish I got a close up picture of the seat because someone had bedazzled it and drawn a poop emoji on it. Minus the added decorations to the toilet, this privy is famous for being very minimal. As in just enough wall coverage to barely block someone’s view from the barn from being able to see your bare ass on the toilet seat. It doesn’t sound very inviting but at least to me, it is an exhilarating place to relieve yourself and I recommend everyone try it out. It comes with a nice view too. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!

Converted barn that is now the Overmountain Shelter on the AT and the very exposed privy on the other side of the shelter.

4/8/2018 – Day 30

Erwin, TN to Campsite – 21.5 miles

I saw Grant and Graham last night for the 1st time since I left Fontana Dam. I was already in my bunk about to go to sleep and they walk in and find me. They heard from others at Uncle Johnny’s that I was there so they went and found me. We caught up for a little while, but I was planning on hiking out early the next morning, so I didn’t stay up long. Ended up waking up at 5:40am and was hiking before 7am. No one else was even awake. It had snowed overnight and was still a bit chilly, but the sun was out all day (high of 45ish) and the ice/snow still on the trees made some amazing views. More trail magic today! Sausage biscuits from McDonald’s, hot chocolate, and lots of other snacks. I called Mountain Harbor and reserved a hostel spot for April 10th. Planning on staying at Overmoutain Shelter tomorrow, so another long day of hiking. Fingers crossed I don’t wake up to rain or snow. Also tied my bear bag using a PCT hang for the 1st time.

Even with the extra time I spent up the night before with Grant and Graham, I was awake very early. Earlier than I usually get up. No one else was awake and it was still dark outside. I took all of my stuff out of the bunkhouse so that I could pack everything without waking up any of the other hikers. It was very chilly but I got to enjoy a beautiful sunrise as I was getting my pack ready to go. Hiking north out of Erwin, the AT crosses the Nolichucky River, over railroad tracks, and then a steady climb away from town. When the sun came out, it made for some great views with the ice and snow covering the trees and ground.

My original plan for today was to stop at Cherry Gap Shelter 17 miles from Erwin, but another hiker said that this shelter was supposedly very small and in really bad shape. He told me about a good campsite a few miles past that shelter that would be worth the extra miles to stay at. If I stayed at that campsite, it would make it easier for me to make it to Overmountain Shelter the next night and then to Mountain Harbor Hostel. About 10 miles in to the day, I saw a sign that said there was trail magic ahead! A couple parked their car on a gravel road where the AT crosses and had hot chocolate, coffee, sausage biscuits from McDonalds, and lots of other small snacks. I had some hot chocolate and a biscuit while talking with the couple about their past thru hike and with the other current thru hikers who were also taking advantage of the trail magic. Eventually the cold got to be too much so I said thank you and goodbye and continued north.

The climb up to Unaka Mountain right after the road with the trail magic was not particularly long, but I remember it being very steep. Even with the chill still in the air, I was hiking up this mountain in shorts knowing full well that if I stopped moving, I would immediately go back to being cold so that got me up Unaka very quickly. At the top of this mountain, a church group had decorated a short pine/evergreen looking tree (I’m not good at identifying trees) with ornaments as if it was Christmas in March. I ended up taking a short break at the top, taking time to look at the decorations on the tree, find a spot to pee, and to call Mountain Harbor to see if they had a bed available in two days for me to reserve. I had service so once my reservation was made, I knew I would try and stay at the campsite past Cherry Gap Shelter tonight.

When I passed by Cherry Gap Shelter, it was exactly as it was described to me. Small and rundown with a slanted floor that would make sleeping on wood even more uncomfortable. I was more than happy to pass it by. I made it to the campsite with a few hours of daylight left so I had plenty of time to kill. I set up my tent, filtered my water, and sat in the grass for a bit playing my pBone before cooking my nightly ramen bomb. As I was finishing up my food, another hiker stopped at the campsite. This was a big grassy area so he was able to set up his tent with plenty of space between the two of us. We had met already but at that point, I could not remember his name so I made no effort to strike up a conversation because I felt bad and didn’t want to ask what his name was again.

After eating, I gathered up my food bag and for the first time on my own, I successfully hung up my food using the PCT hang. Hanging a food bag this way takes away the need to tie the rope around a tree to keep the bag from falling, thus making it a lot harder for any animals to cut it down. The last time I was able to check the weather, it predicted snow and/or rain tomorrow. I went to sleep hoping that it would hold off until I was able to pack away my tent. One of my least favorite things on the AT was packing up a wet tent, especially when it’s cold outside.

Beautiful, frosty bald

4/7/2018 – Day 29

Erwin, TN – zero day

Wasn’t planning on taking a zero today, but my mom’s original plan of hiking with me changed once we found out it was going to be cold and wet all day. She got here around 10am and brought the blue Osprey pack because the green one won’t tighten around my hips anymore. The blue one fit much better! I found out last night that Braden and Racheal are in Erwin and decided to take a zero also. They ended up joining my mom and I for lunch at Las Jalapenos and our resupply at Wal-Mart. Great to see them again and to know we’ll probably be hiking to the same shelter tomorrow. Staying in the hostel part of Uncle Johnny’s tonight. A lot of people in here that I met in Hot Springs. Pretty relaxed night hanging out in the hostel where it’s warm. I’m debating doing 2 21/22-mile days to be able to stay at Overmountain Shelter before I get to Mountain Harbor. The terrain doesn’t seem so bad. Just a lot of uphill to get out of Erwin, so we’ll see how it goes.

Today was very cold and rainy all day. I knew before my mom made it to Erwin that there was no way either of us would want to hike in this weather. I was right. When my mom did finally make it, she said she would just hang around with me for the day to explore Erwin and hang out with other hikers. With her, she brought her extra osprey pack for me to try on because it was a smaller model than the pack that I had been using so far. I tried it on and the hip belt tightened enough with extra space left for me to tighten it more when I needed to. It was a huge relief to have a pack that fit me again.

Late last night, I got a message from Racheal and Braden that they were in Erwin and were planning on taking a zero day. They opted to stay in a motel instead of the hostel which is why I did not see them when they made it to Erwin. I messaged them to ask if they would want to join my mom and I for lunch at a Mexican restaurant in town and that my mom would be able to pick them up and drop them off at the motel. That was an easy offer to accept and my mom then got to meet two of my closest friends that I had made on the AT so far. Any future AT hikers who are reading this, I highly recommend Las Jalapenos in Erwin, TN. Delicious food with enough to fill up any thru hiker. None of us had resupplied yet so after we finished eating, my mom drove us to Wal-Mart to get food for the next section of the AT. We met back up at the front of Wal-Mart, dropped Racheal and Braden back at the motel, and headed back to Uncle Johnny’s.

There wasn’t an available cabin for me to stay in this night so I stayed in the hostel. Most of the people in the hostel that night, I had met in Hot Springs when we were all treated to a big Easter meal . One of those people included a veteran who was hiking with her service dog. Unfortunately, I did not record her name and do not remember it now, but I do remember part of her story. She was discharged from the military after suffering severe injuries following a fall from a tower. She still has lasting effects from that fall that flare up randomly which is why she has her service dog. This dog was huge and fluffy and one of the nicest dogs I’ve ever met. When she wasn’t wearing her service dog vest, she was very playful and would move from bed to bed in the hostel to take naps around different people. I was very happy to see them both again.

My mom hung out for a while with the other hikers and I in the hostel but she had a long drive back to South Carolina, so we got a picture together and said our goodbyes. After she left, a lot of hikers went into town on the shuttle to get dinner but I opted to stay at the hostel. The outfitter store at the hostel also sold small frozen pizzas so I got two of those to eat for dinner. While at the store, I asked if I would be able to exchange my darn tough socks that have holes in them for a new pair. Darn Tough socks have a lifetime warranty so if any holes appear from normal wear and tear, they will replace them for free. Some outfitters even offer to swap them out for you and thankfully at Uncle Johnny’s, I was able to do that. They told me to put my old socks in a sealable bag – to contain the smell – and then pick out a new pair of darn tough socks that are the price equivalent of the ones I was turning in. The hostel will send my socks with holes to Darn Tough with the tags of the new socks I picked out so that their store could be reimbursed. I got two new pairs of socks that day and am still using those socks to hike now in 2020.

I was planning two longs days of hiking out of Erwin to make it to Overmountain Shelter before the next hostel I was planning on staying at. Overmountain Shelter is an old converted barn that fits up to 24 hikers. I had stayed there once before on a section hike with my mom and knew I wanted to stay there again. I went to bed early before any other hikers but before I was able to dose off, I heard some people asking, “Is Slider here?” and “Where is Slider?” I recognized those voices and immediately jumped out of bed to see Grant and Graham standing in the hostel. I was very tired, but so excited to see them again that I hung out with them outside by a fire some other hikers made. It was raining lightly outside, but I managed to stay awake for another hour with them before finally turning in to bed. Tomorrow was going to be an early morning.

My mom (Italian Ice) and I taking a picture while sitting on my hostel bed before she left to drive back to SC.

4/6/2018 – Day 28

No Business Knob Shelter to Erwin, TN – 6.2 miles

A fairly easy hike into Erwin this morning. A few climbs, but nothing real big or long. Mainly just a decent into town. I stayed in a cabin at Uncle Johnny’s Hostel (trail magic from mom). Nothing special. Just a room to myself with a giant bed. The space to myself was a great change, even though the ceiling leaked when it rained. The sewage system was down at the hostel, so the showers and toilets were not working. They had to bring in porta potties and a woman who worked there let me (secretly) take a shower in a private bathroom in a cabin that had not been checked into yet. Got a free shuttle into town to an $8 all-you-can-eat pizza place. Also got ice cream to eat later. For dinner, I ended up hanging out with a group of guys from Ohio here to fish and a group of rafting guides. The fishermen made sausages and potatoes, the rafters had beer, and I had a p-bone. Best night sleep so far on the trail.

I listened to music for the first time on the trail this morning. I was up early that I didn’t see any other hikers out on the trial, so I felt okay playing my music without using headphones. I was craving some jazz music and thankfully had service to be able to use data to listen to some Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. I listened to their music a lot on the AT and learned “Summertime” from a recording of theirs. That was easily my favorite piece of music to play while out on the trail. Anyone I spent a lot of time with on the AT can tell you that if my pBone was out, I was most likely playing “Summertime.”

As my mom and I were planning her visit to meet me in Erwin, she said she had reserved a one person cabin for me to stay in instead of bunking in the hostel. She will meet me the next day with her extra pack since the one I had been using started to be too big and would fall down past my hips as I was losing weight on the trail. The cabin was a small space, but I welcomed the privacy of a room and bed to myself for the first time in a month. Unfortunately, there was a leak in the ceiling and while the room was mostly dry by the time I got to Uncle Johnny’s Hostel, a corner of the bed was still a bit damp. All the other cabins were full but I didn’t mind the one I had already. They left the fans in there and by the time I actually slept in the bed, it was dry.

There was another unfortunate problem at Uncle Johnny’s while I was there. The sewer system was down so they did not have working toilets or showers. They had porta potties set up for guests to use. That was still a step up from squatting over a cat hole so not a problem for me. I was talking to one of the women working who checked me into my cabin about the sewer system being down and she offered to let me use the shower in their biggest cabin that was connected to a separate system from the one that wasn’t working right now. A big group of people were coming in later to stay in it but she said I had enough time to get myself clean before they checked in. The hospitality of people along the AT never ceased to amaze me. I was more than happy to take her up on her offer and thanked her profusely.

Uncle Johnny’s Hostel is right along the AT, but it is a bit further off the trail to get into town. The hostel offers shuttle rides a few times a day to an AYCE pizza buffet, a Dollar General, and a market. I ate my fill of pizza and sweet tea and got my resupply at the Dollar General that was right next door to the pizza place. While looking for food, I found pints of ice cream being sold for $2 each so I got two of those along with a giant honey bun for breakfast the next morning. The ice cream was gone before I went to sleep.

Back at the hostel, I heard from some other hikers that a big group of fishers and rafting guides from Ohio were offering food to any hungry hikers so my dinner was set. It was pretty cold that night and also pouring down rain but thankfully they had a big tarp tent set up that fit a surprising amount of people under it. I wish I had taken a picture of all the food because there was so much there along with coolers of beer. We chatted about my time on the trail and how all of them met each other fishing and rafting. All of the guys in the fishing groups and the rafting group were from Ohio so I was able to connect with them very well. While I grew up in South Carolina, my grandparents on my moms side live in Ohio along with some of my cousins. These guys were super nice and really knew their way around a grill. I went to bed that night happy and with a full stomach.

The thru hiker diet is not a healthy one.

4/5/2018 – Day 27

Hogback Ridge Shelter to No Business Knob Shelter – 20.7 miles

It got below freezing last night and it was still pretty cold in the morning. Got a later start at 7:45, but it was all good because when I got to Sam’s Gap after a few miles, there was trail magic! Silent Paul (thru-hiked in 2007) cooked scrambled eggs and hash browns. Also had chocolate chip cookies, oranges, and soda. I drank a root beer for the first time in a while. Didn’t stop again until I got to the top of the bald before Bald Mountain Shelter. Beautiful 360° view with sunny skies and minimal wind. Played some p-bone and ate lunch up there. After that it was mainly downhill. Had to take it slow because of my tendon, but I still made fairly good time and got to No Business Knob Shelter by 6:10pm. There was one other guy there, but he ended up hiking on towards Erwin. Grant (Wisconsin) showed up maybe 30/45 minutes after me. He set up his tent, so tonight it is just me in the shelter. There are no bear cables at this shelter, so Grant and I hung out food bags up together. Also, no privy, so I had to do the fun poop and squat. Nero day in Erwin tomorrow. Hopefully that’s enough time for my tendon to heal more.

I was getting very tired of these cold mornings but it did help me pack up and get moving very quickly in the mornings, even with my later start on this particular morning. After my failed attempt at trying to eat oatmeal in the mornings, I had been eating anything I could get down quickly with maximum calories for my breakfast since day 3 of my hike. I still can’t eat oatmeal now over a year later. I’d eat a bar or a frosted honeybun – my favorite – while I packed up my bag and be on my way. Whenever I got hungry again in the morning, I would eat my ‘second breakfast’ that was always a clif bar. This particular morning I did not need my usual second breakfast because less than 3 miles into the day, I saw a sign that pointed uphill and said, “Trail magic, scrambled eggs, hash browns, soda, oranges.”

This is where I met a popular trail angel who goes by the trail name, Silent Paul. Silent Paul thru hiked the AT in 2007 and it was cool to hear his stories about how different it was just 10 years ago. Ever since his thru hike, he had set up trail magic in this location at Sam’s Gap in Tennessee just off of I-26 and right by a grave yard. He told me that he used to have hikers rake leaves around the grave yard to earn their trail magic but since it was just me there he said I didn’t have to. While he was cooking my eggs, I took my pBone out and played for him and was joined by another thru hiker. I ate my heart out, thanked Silent Paul for his generosity, and started hiking again.

There are not a lot of spots on the AT where you get a good 360 view but today I would get one of those great views. Balds on tops of mountain are few and far between. So much so, that some of the balds you walk over cannot be sustained by themselves. There are a good amount of ‘man-made’ balds that would have disappeared years ago if it wasn’t for workers who maintain them. Big Bald was a small bald patch on top of a mountain with an amazing view. I stopped there to eat my lunch and to play some music into the wind. Grant came up the bald as I was hanging out there. He took some pictures and then kept going and I followed shortly after.

Not far after Big Bald, there is a shelter called Bald Mountain Shelter. Nature was calling and I did not want to dig a cat hole so I went off trail to use the privy at the shelter. There I met some other hikers who were hanging out around a fire. They said that they had spent the night at that shelter and were in no hurry to start hiking today. This is a great example of hiking your own hike. I would never stay at my campsite so late into the morning/afternoon, but I met plenty of other hikers who preferred to sleep in and hike later in the day.

My tendon was still hurting but with my sister’s advice, I was taking it slow and at least not making the injury worse. It had not hurt nearly as bad as it did when I reached the 300-mile mark so that kept my mind at ease. I learned about biofreeze the year before from someone in one of my mom’s hiking/backpacking group and I am forever grateful that I had it with me from day 1 of my thru hike. 100% worth the few ounces of weight.

At the campsite, there was another hiker(unfortunately do not remember his name) who was making his dinner. We struck up a conversation as I was setting up my things in the shelter. He said he was going to hike a few more miles before calling it quits for the night so once he finished his food, he packed his things and hiked on. Not much later, Grant made it to No Business Knob Shelter and ended up setting up his tent. This shelter/campsite did not have bear cables or a privy and the water source was .3 miles south on the AT. Thankfully I saw that before I got to the shelter so I filled up on water as I passed it. Grant and I hung up our food together that night and agreed that whoever got up first would leave the other persons food bag hanging in the shelter. I was unable to avoid digging a cat hole tonight but it was at least easy to find somewhere to squat and do my business with only one other hiker there to hide from. It was also nice to have a shelter to myself for the night again but a bit weird because most nights so far, the shelter would be full of other hikers. I was happy to not have to worry about waking up to someone snoring though. That unfortunately, would happen a lot during my hike.

The trail magic sign that Silent Paul left on the AT to point hungry hikers his way. He was set up a steep hill but it was more than worth the steep climb to hear his stories and eat his food.

4/4/2018 – Day 26

Jerry Cabin Shelter to Hogback Ridge Shelter – 15.5 miles

Didn’t mention it yesterday, but I reached the 300-mile point! Started off with cold rain this morning. I had service as I started climbing so I tried calling Laura about my tendon. No answer. Ended up sending her a text later and at the shelter that night I had great service, so I got her response: Don’t hike so fast, put more weight on poles, use bio-freeze, and ice whenever possible. Rain stopped after 10am, so overall, not a bad day.

I was up and moving before the others were awake in the shelter. I did not do much exploring through the campsite the night before because of my injury so when I walked through it on the trail, I noticed a lot more people camped out than I thought. All either still asleep in their tents avoiding the rain or just starting to pack up their things.

Once I started getting to higher ground, I tried calling Laura but got not answer, so I sent her a text and hoped she would get the message. I continued to use bio-freeze a few times throughout the day and would stretch out my leg to help alleviate some of the pain. At the shelter I thankfully got a response from Laura and based on my description to her, she said I had patellar tendonitis. The biggest thing I had to worry about was to not adjust all of my weight on my opposite leg because that could cause an injury there if I did that for too long. I slowed down my pace, put more weight on my poles, and took more frequent breaks and made it alright to the shelter.

During one of my breaks, I met another hiker named Grant. He got off the AT the year before at Hot Springs because of an injury so this year, he got back on where he left off. I would see him on the trail for a couple of days, but eventually I pulled ahead of him and I never heard about him after that. A very common thing to happen on the trail.

I don’t remember much about this day besides dealing with my patellar tendonitis and that it just really hurt. I was still worried that I might have to take a few days off of the trail to let it heal and that was the last thing I wanted to do. Getting the response from Laura helped me a lot and I was able to make it to the shelter without making the injury any worse.

There were a lot of these little guys hanging around the trail.