Silers Bald Shelter [mile 194.3]
Another majestic morning. I slept warm. The sardine next to me decided he wanted half my sleeping pad. On the other hand, I was snoring so loudly that I kept waking myself up. The poor guy was probably subconsciously trying to smother me into silence. 🙂
The first big hill led to a whole new kind of pretty—a sea of grasses and sparse trees on a big bald, with mountains all around. Their folds of earth and shadow made them look like an alien landscape. Gorgeous.
That first six miles was as hard as it was cracked up to be. I never could have climbed those hills yesterday. But it led to a dilemma. At 1 o’clock in the afternoon, after only 6 miles, I already had hamburger feet. Nobody else seems to be having this issue—believe me, I’m asking. I’m actually thinking that 15 years of stomping barefoot on tatami and concrete wore away the padding on the soles of my feet.
I can manage 11 or 12 miles, but the last two involve a lot of tears and baby stepping. Have you ever baby stepped for 2 miles uphill? I’m going to pick up some gel insoles in Hot Springs, but I have to get there first, and this shelter rule is killing me. I hate the Smokies with a white hot passion. . Very ironic, since it was in the Smokies that I first heard of the AT. Which I keep meaning to write about, then forgetting.
So anyway, I already had the hamburger feet at Derrick Knob Shelter. I pulled out the guide and realized it was going to take me 11 days to get through the park. Most hikers do it in 5 or 6, and the permit’s only good for 8.
I was sitting here gnashing my teeth and looking for a sign from the heavens about what to do, when who should appear hiking southbound but Preacher! Remember him? Knee injury. It ended his hike back around Deep Gap. But he got out and saw his doctor buddy. Turned out to be his IT band. The doc told him to stay off it for 3 months (and said he knew he wouldn’t). And there Preacher was, hiking.
How could I whine about foot pain when Preacher was hiking? So I decided to try for the next shelter.
I made it. It was fiercely difficult. Tears, hamburger, yada yada. But 12.8 miles.
Also? I blew my nose on a rhododendron. Not proud.
Sparky and his daughter and I are the only ones here. I’m still looking at probably 10 days to do the park. We’ll see.
I’m grateful to have a warm place to sleep. So tired of being cold!