Miles hiked: 12.8
Today was pain and that pain began at 8:19am. I had no intention of hiking over 12 miles when I woke up this morning. My original goal was to hike to Lance Creek and camp out like most of the people from the shelter last night were doing, as it’s only 8 miles. I didn’t take any pictures again today as it was misty almost all day.
I was making great time today and was very happy when I passed the 5 mile mark in 2.5 hours, only 3 more miles and I could be done for the day if I wanted to. I was double pleased that about an hour in I caught up with and passed the four Dartmouth girls who left camp almost 30 minutes before me. They are a group of hardcore ass kickers. I met up with them again at the 5 mile mark, where I was resting and taking a quick snack break. I took their picture for them and pushed on into the Chattahoochee National Forest.
The next few miles went a little slower, as I could feel my feet hurting. Oddly enough, I was able to ignore the pain as long as I was walking. It’s only when I stopped to rest or get a drink of water that I noticed how much they ached.
I arrived at Lance Creek around 12:30pm and foolishly decided to push on and try to make it to the shelter, which was more than four more miles. It was rough and slow going. It took me another hour and 20 minutes to reach Jarrod Gap, indicating I was halfway there. Most people avoid camping in this area because you’re required to have a bear canister between Jarrod Gap and Neels Gap, due to higher bear activity, and most people don’t.
After Jarrod Gap, I was pretty beat. I wasn’t looking forward to the next two miles, but it was far too late to turn around. I felt like I was taking baby steps, slowly but surely making progress. Finally, at 2:43pm I saw the sign for the shelter. I may have said some explatives out of joy at this point. I began walking the trail to the shelter, not realizing how far it was. The book says it’s 0.5 miles, but the book is a damn liar. It felt longer, though I may have just been tired.
It took me almost 15 minutes to actually reach the shelter. I immediately sat down and began changing into dry clothes. I also inspected my feet and noticed some new blisters (yes, plural).
Since I had the shelter to myself, I decided to stroll off, strip completely naked, and attempt to give myself a half-assed “bath”. The inside of my thighs were (are) chafed raw and bloody. My junk smelled like a rotting badger. After not showering for five days, I’m not too surprised.
I waddled back to the shelter (my feet REALLY hurt) and began to cook dinner (chicken pasta and tuna). I followed dinner with some pop-tarts and followed that with peanut butter crackers, dipped in peanut butter. Then I had some fruit snacks. I was quite hungry.
It took three hours before anyone else showed up at the shelter, a small group of four people just out here for a few days. They were at the shelter last night, but left to spend the night in a hostel instead since it was so packed.
Tomorrow is Blood Mountain, the highest peak on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia. Frankly, I’m not looking forward to it. But Blood Mountain is all that stands between me and Neels Gap, a mere three miles away. If I can’t get new shoes there, I might be out of the game. I can’t keep going with these shoes.