I sent home my camera and my underwear and half my toothbrush, and I threw out my extra ziplocks and my tissues and every other gram of non-safety-related weight, and by freaking gods, I wanted to know that it counted. So this morning I packed up and trundled down to the outfitter and hung my pack on the scale.
Are you ready?
24 pounds, baby!
24 pounds, and that includes 4 or 5 days of food. (No water, but I’m planning on carrying less of that anyway.)
I can’t tell you how thrilling that was. Then, icing on the cake, I walked out of the outfitter (or skipped, really; knowing the pack is only 24 pounds made me stupidly giddy!) and nearly tripped over this canoe:
Which, you may or may not know, is freaky, because look what I have tattooed on my shapely hiker’s calf:
(I hope people aren’t getting a bunch of emails from this post. Embedding the photos seems to be doing something odd.)
Anyway, the NOC. It’s a huge psychological milestone on a thru. I don’t really know why—137.3 miles, not at the Smokes (as I like to call them). It’s certainly big, much bigger than I realized. It’s a whole campus of huts and buildings. Their nut comes from the Nantahala River and canoeing rather than hikers.
There are a lot of hikers here, as usual. I had breakfast with a bunch of them: Big Yankee, whom I met back at Muskrat Creek, plus Liferaft and Tugboat and Thunderfoot and others. We recognize one another. Here’s one from Big Yankee:
Q: What’s the difference between a thru-hiker and a homeless person?
Anyway, a lot of the hikers have been stranded here for three days because of the weather, and some of them are stir-crazy and headed out today anyway, despite the snow! A lot of localish hikers have bailed home for a week or two to wait for spring.
I’m planning to be out early—hopefully 7:30 AM or so, when it’s light enough to see the rocks. Can’t wait to be out there slugging!