In high school, I was president of the Interact Club, so I got to go to a Rotary Youth Leadership conference. I don’t remember much about it except while I was there a rotary dude asked me to speak at regional rotary meeting. I went, and in a door prize drawing I won a set of Frogg Toggs. I had never heard of them before, and they sat unused in my closet for a few years before we finally gave them away.
Today, I would have given anything for those.
I woke up at 3:17am and left my friend Dakota’s apartment. Thursday night i’d agreed to go to a party with my study group, and I’d dragged Dakota along and asked if I could crash at his place. (The party was INCREDIBLY fun.) My shuttle was at 9am and 4 hours away, and I didn’t want to be late.
I was overly cautious, because I got there at 8:17am. I had called the shuttle to let him know I was running early, so he arrived minutes after me. I used hiker shuttles again, because they really do tend to be the cheapest around Erwin and I like them. This time it was the husband, Tom, driving me.
We started chatting, and I found out that he had a lot of family graduate from Tennessee tech. And then I found out that he had a near encyclopedic knowledge of the section I would be hiking. It was impressive. He started advising me on alternative campsites to hike to, and we started talking about our hiking styles, and then finally he challenged me to hike to Erwin today instead of the easy 8 miles I’d planned. That would be 24.7.
Of course I said yes. He asked me to text him when I got there.
I was booking it at this point. I was going about 3.2 mph for the last 6 miles. I passed No Business Knob Shelter, full of hikers. I said hello as I walked by, and one woman said, “ooooh dear. Oh no. Well be careful. You’re probably pushing yourself and tired and not watching where you’re going. It’s muddy and slippery.” I said thanks but rolled my eyes. Honestly. Of course I’m tired. You get tired when you hike all day instead of stopping at 1 pm.
I made it to Erwin at 8pm on the nose. I texted Tom from Hiker Shuttles. He told me congrats, he knew I could do it, and then informed me I had 30 miles left to go. 55 miles in 2 days?
Also texted Carpenter, of course.
I started setting up my tent under a bridge next to the nolichucky river. I was just about to pull out my sleeping bag when a man appeared next to me. He told me his name was Jeff and he worked at Uncle Johnny’s hostel across the road, and that river could flood tonight, and did I want to stay at the hostel for free, because they had 2 beds open?
Well, I weighed my options (tent and possible drowning or hostel) and went for the hostel.
Jeff said “well look at those legs! They’re miles long!!”
It’s been a good day.
MVP: Pack weight. 15.4!
LVP: raaaiiiinnnn. But I did get some rain pants out of the hiker box, so if it rains today I’m prepared.