Siler Bald to Wayah Bald Shelter
Miles Hiked: 7.3
AT milage: 120.2
This morning I slept in slightly later than normal since I barely slept at all the night before. Last night was my roughest night on trail yet. I was up until 3:30am having massive coughing fits and I didn’t have any water with me at all. I felt like I was constantly choking on phlegm and trying not to gag. It’s gross but true. I also had to pee very bad and was so scared to get out of my tent but eventually did it. I was crying because I wanted to go home. I was just so exhausted and being sick made everything ten times worse. Thankfully I had service and my sister was awake to text me about trail and life stuff.
Noah, another hiker I met a few days ago at mile 100 gave me some oatmeal cookies for breakfast and we hiked up Siler Bald together. I enjoyed his company as we hiked together all day until we reached Wayah Bald. I had to laugh because he told me how he gets bored out of his mind when he hikes alone so he always looks for people to hike with. I have no idea how he’s not gonna be bored the rest of the trail, this guy needs to make a trail family soon. As for myself, I enjoy hiking alone quite a bit. Yes company is nice but I have no problem being all by myself. It constantly feels like I’m on a mission because I am! Still over 2,000 miles to get to Maine. Maybe I will get bored of myself one day, hopefully not any time soon.
At Wayah Bald we ate lunch together and then Noah continued on a lot farther than I planned on hiking. I sat at Wayah Bald for almost three hours to see if I got a second wind to hike more. I did not so I decided to camp at the closest shelter. Flamingo, Cocoa and Bill (now named Locks) showed up and I was so glad to see them. They are a small trail family I had a fun time camping with a few nights ago but haven’t seen in a few days since they hike a lot faster and took a zero day in town. I believe it happened while I was on top of Wayah Bald, but my legs got incredibly sunburned today. They are bright red. It stings a little bit and feels really hot, but to be completely honest I am kind of enjoying how it makes my legs feel warmer.
Wayah Bald is a place on the AT I was really excited to reach because my family and I visited here less than two years ago and I loved it. It’s so ironic that the AT goes right over it and I had no clue I would ever be attempting a thru hike. Below I will put pictures of myself at the same spot two years ago and then today. Since I last visited they have rebuilt the roof of the tower that burnt down in a forrest fire.
At the shelter I had a great time catching up with Flamingo, Locks, and Cocoa. I also spent a good deal of time talking to a new friend I made named Gatsby. Gatsby is in his late 30s and trying to hike the trail for his second time. Last year he made it 800 miles before he had to go home due to multiple injuries. I am always SO impressed when I meet people who are out here to try again after being defeated the year before. I think it is so tough to put yourself through the whole first 800 miles you already did before you had to quit instead of starting again where you left off. Gatsby is a military brat from Guam who has traveled all over the country and is usually employed on a wind farm.
Two other interesting people I talked to tonight were Woodstock and Tsuke. I met them last night and they seemed a little rough on the edges but 100% down to earth people. They started out with regular school backpacks and a six person tent for the two of them. They sent home their six person tent around mile 60 and have upgraded their backpacks since then. They hike about 5-6 miles a day and Tsuke plans to wear a pair of converse the whole way. They also smoke a lot of cigarettes and walked farther to town to buy some one day than they hiked on the trail! They make me laugh so much. I love that they are still out here willing to walk to Maine when it seems they have everything against them. I’m pretty sure most people think they are crazy but I am just so glad people like them are out here trying this. Their packs have to weigh over 50 pounds which is incredible to me. As long as you are respecting nature and the experiences of others I believe there is no one “right way” to be in the outdoors. You can enjoy it any way you want. It holds no expectations for you other than respect.
Speaking of respecting nature, a code of ethics followed on trail and in every other outdoor activity is called “leave no trace” or LNT for short. If you have never heard of it before I strongly suggest looking it up on the “leave no trace” center’s website (lnt.org). Below I will post a picture with the 7 basic principles that are followed.
I wanted to talk about two other people I briefly met on trail yesterday. Their names are Diesel and Summit. They were two older men who have been hiking the trail in sections since 2012. Yesterday they hit their 2,000 mile mark and are continuing on their hike to Hot Springs, North Carolina. They made sure they did not hike the last 14 miles to Mount Katahdin (the northern terminus of the AT). This August they plan to hike the last 14 miles together and celebrate their completion of the trail with their families. I am so excited for them! Hiking to whole trail is such an accomplishment no matter how you do it. It can look much different than a thru hike. I just wanted to highlight another way that people attempt to hike the whole trail. If I didn’t get the opportunity to do a thru hike I’m sure I would be someone who took 10 years or more to complete the whole trail.