18 SEP 14
TN/NC Section 11
Hogback Ridge Shelter- Big Bald summit
Miles today: 8.9
It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.
– Sir Edmund Hillary
Dear diary: Today I got my ass kicked by a mountain.
The bugs that kept me awake all last night were katydids. Something in the ecosystem atop Hogback Ridge is obviously utterly out of whack, because there shouldn’t be that much of ANY species in any one spot in the world. Also, most of the night was spent slipping and sliding around in my tent and off my sleeping mat. Here’s the setup: My tent has one door, on the left. I usually sleep on my left so that’s a good fit. Unfortunately my sleeping bag is a right hand zip, so that lends to a some creative positioning during the course of the night. One short-term spur of the moment solution was to put the sleeping mat INSIDE the sleeping bag, which didn’t help much because the mat took up entirely too much space in the bag, which cramped my feet. While I was reading and trying to not think about the racket going on outside, I had that “heart” thing happen again, kind of like it skipping a beat or fluttering, except it catches my breath for a second. It’s definitely not a good feeling, and it happened twice yesterday also.
17 SEP 14
TN/NC Section 11
Devil Fork Gap- Hogback Ridge Shelter
Miles today: 6.1
“It’s an interesting combination: Having a great fear of being alone, and having a desperate need for solitude and the solitary experience. That’s always been a tug of war for me.” – Jodie Foster
For some strange reason, I kept missing the entrance to the famed Uncle Johnny’s Nolichucky Hostel. I mean, I found the buildings, parked, walked around and found the bathroom, but I kept missing the actual entrance so I could catch my shuttle. Oh- it was a little walkway obscured between two towering bushes that led to a patio where a few older gentlemen were. THAT was where I needed to be.
My driver got me to Devil Fork Gap (mi 309, elev 3115′) at around 1330. It was sunny and 71 degrees- not bad at all for a hike. The forecast called for a 30% chance of rain each day until Sunday, and it had just rained two days prior, so chances were the springs would be flowing freely. For some reason however, I decided to bring an extra water bottle, my down sleeping bag, a long-sleeved shirt, and a few other things I hadn’t brought along on my last hike. Although they were small and didn’t weigh much individually, that brought my pack weight (including 3 1/2 days of food) to 27 pounds- almost 4 pounds heavier than my Hot Springs hike- and THAT wasn’t factoring in water weight. Hmm.