Last night was very cold. I don’t think I was alone in waking up a good few times freezing cold judging by the noise coming from the tents spread out around the shelter. I kept waking up with aching hips and knees and had to keep putting more layers on. I maxed out by putting everything except my waterproofs on and was still cold. Somebody even woke me up as mine was one of the last tents left standing the following morning and the guy was concerned that I was the old guy called spot. According to my watch the temperature was close to zero. I later found out that some guys even had ice on their tents.
After a slow start I clocked up another 16.2 miles and I am proud to say that I have smashed the 100 miles mark. I spent some of the morning walking with an Austrian guy called Martin. I introduced him to my new super food – jelly beans and we walked and chatted for an hour or so.
North Carolina is a temperate rainforest and it certainly felt like it. There were a lot of tree roots on trail and the vegetation was a lot more green. It was almost like walking through the kind of places I’d imagine my gramp would have walked when he was in Burma.
I passed a group of guys who were setting up at Betty Creek Gap. They offered me some liquid refreshment in the form of Moonshine. Which from what I understand is fermented ethanol. Pretty strong stuff and hit the spot.
The last stretch of the day involved me waking with a guy a called Lumberjack. He has just finished his studies in ecology / forestry and was an interesting chap. The guys he was walking with were also really nice. A guy who’s trail name was Grizz-el (cross between grizzly bear and gazelle due to his stature and prowess on this trail) and a girl named Dancing Feather. Grizzle is from Tennessee and has a great accent. Really countrified.
We scaled Albert Mountain which involved some technical climbing and scrambling. I swear I heard something big crash through the undergrowth at the start of the approach.
Most of the assent involved almost a shear drop to my right and a mossy cliff face to my left. Awesome.
There was a disused fire tower at the top of Albert and the panoramic views were spectacular. I hope the pics I have taken do it justice.
I road into Long Branch shelter at about 7pm and have camped with grizzle and company. I had a darn fine chili for dinner and spent a good couple of hours chewing the fat with my new found friends. It seems that America is much like the UK with the state of the economy and peeps taking the piss on benefit. Grizzle showed me some pics of the guns he owns legally at home and in general it was a darn fine night.
Just 7.3 miles to Franklin and then it’s calorie loading time. I need to send some stuff back home and want to Skype / FaceTime my loved ones, obviously whilst squeezing in a few beers. Can’t wait.