Mile 273 – Hitting my stride

I’m currently in Hot Springs, North Carolina camping outside of town next to the river, reminds me of home sitting by the river. No Bull in the Barn pub to go to for a pint, but a gas station just up the road for beer. Didn’t make it in time for the Bluegrass festival unfortunately. All good though!

French Broad River in Hot Springs

Sitting in the public library uploading photos and doing bits and pieces. I used to spend half my day in front of a computer back in Mexico and now this day is turning into one of those days, but a good one as I get to share all the goodness with you folks.

My tendon is doing pretty awesome at the moment. It can still get a little sore, but I met a nurse in Fontana and she taught me a great routine of stretches and they have worked magic! I did a 16 mile day the other day to Max Patch and beyond. A BIG day for me.

My first month I averaged only 8 miles a day including days off (zeros) and short days (neros), so far in the 2nd month I’m averaging about 11 miles, so I’m getting better that’s for sure.

If you’re a one-day hopeful thru hiker reading this and you’re out of shape, I highly recommend NOT doing the approach trail and keeping that mileage down for the first month. I definitely don’t regret it! I’ve seen MANY people go off the trail because they did a 15-20 mile day in the first few weeks when they weren’t ready for it. Your tendons and ligaments etc develop slower than muscles. I mean some trail leavers are super sporty folk in great shape that move out in groups and listen to the group not their bodies.

Which gets me to the next thing. How hard this is. This shit is hard.

It is not just a walk in the woods. It’s up and down constantly. Some days, 20 metres of flat trail is a blessing. El Camino de Santiago was a piece of cake in comparison.

Have you ever climbed Snowdon in Wales before (without the train!) ? My short days are similar to starting at the bottom of Snowdon, hiking up and then back down again with between 17 and 20 kilos on my back, and starting dirty and stinky, without a pub at the end.  That’s just 10 miles.

You know that really steep scree slope near the top of the mountain? That’s my life! 🙂

What’s happened recently?…..

I saw a eagle attacking a wild grouse the other day. That was cool. A family of deer came walking straight past me the other day in the Smokies, I mean like 2 metres away from me! Wish I could upload the videos but I’m filming in HD. Think I wrote that before.

Had a sunset and super moon sunrise from Max Patch bald. That was sick. Awesome end to the best day of hiking I’ve done so far. I was crushing miles at a fast pace (for me!) and really booking it up the inclines. I think I’m starting to get my trail legs…. basically when you can just go and go and go with little pain. I don’t feel like doing that today though after so many PBRs last night!

Max Patch Bald Sunset

I stayed at Standing Bear Farm the other day, a cool little hostel that has all you need. We stayed in a cool cabin and the stream runs right under the building. Pretty neat. Take your own beers though as the guy who’s running it temporarily is charging $2 for a PBR!!!

We got some great trail magic when we arrived there as Mike “Shots to go” left us a 12 pack in the fridge for us. He hiked the first 100 miles then got off the trail as he only had about a week. Now he’s back to hike the whole thing!!! Aquaman and Tricks did the same thing recently. They just headed out of Hot Springs this morning.

I’ve met some really cool folk recently. It’s nice to not be overtaken by everyone as I’m doing better mileage these days and that way I can keep up with friends and so on.

Skirt, Tintin, Manybags, Pinky, Suds.  (yep, he hikes in a skirt-chafe)

As you probably know we have trail names, it’s kinda weird to change your name, especially the first few times you introduce yourself to someone. It kind of felt a bit lame at first, but it makes life soooo much easier. I think I met 5 Johns in the first week, just impossible to know who someone is talking about “You know, John from Canada….?”    “nope”.

So I’m Suds, I’m sitting next to Driftwood in the library, hiking with Pinky, Manybags, Skirt, Tintin and Shots to go at the moment. So easy to remember, especially as there are hundreds of hikers out here.

Anyway, I’m off to buy my resupply my food for the next 5-6 days to Erwin, Tennessee.

If anyone wants to send me some mezcal, let me know and I’ll give you an address for a town coming up!!!!! 😉

You can see more photos on Facebook. If you’re not my friend on FB you can check out more photos here:

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