Max Patch [mile 254.1]
I haven’t done a lot of the quintessential AT stuff, mostly because of the weather. Clingman’s Dome, Charlie’s Bunion, the plane wreckage… those are in the Smokies, and with the shelter rule I didn’t have time to really linger. I didn’t stay at Neels Gap.
Here, though, I’m finally doing something quintessential. I’m tenting on the summit of Max Patch. (It’s famous! Google it )
It’s a grassy bald with 360-degree views of the mountains. The peace and the silence are immeasurable. The Smokies have nothing on these views! The wind is combing the grass, and the brilliant sky is about to flush with sunset. DB Cooper and Two Socks are here; so far, we’re the only tents in our little tent city.
The day was excellent, but—and I’m not complaining, mind you—it was brutally hot. Brutal! I put my shorts on at 8 AM, right in the middle of the trail. The temp was only 80-something, but the winter trees have no leaves, so the sun beat down relentlessly. Hikers were sitting by the side of the trail all day, limp and drooping. It’s hard to believe that four nights ago I was wearing three long-sleeve shirts, two jackets, three hats, socks, down booties, and two pairs of gloves to bed, and I was still cold. Today I was so hot that the shoulder straps on my pack turned white with salt, and I’ve been divebombed all day by bugs trying to drink the sweat that was pouring off my face. Yum.
Also, my clothes smell so bad that I don’t really want them in the same state with me. (I’n not sure what state I’m in. Tennolina. Carosee.) They haven’t seen the inside of a washing machine since Franklin.
So. I did 14.9 miles today! Only 13.3 of them count, though. Yesterday I accidentally got off the trail on the way to Drunken Bear Farm. Being a purist, I had to walk all the way down to where I got off the trail, then hike it back up to the hostel.
That’s close enough to 15 for me! I might just be getting something like trail legs.
Oh! I almost forgot! Trail magic! Four miles back, at Brown Gap, a forest service volunteer named Apple had sodas and cookies and water and honeybuns! I drank a cold lemonade (it was too late for caffeine, so no Coke) and snagged a delicious honeybun for tomorrow. Thanks, Apple!
I was hoping to have internet up here so I could upload some entries. But alas, nothing.
Ah, well. Hot Springs is just around the corner! I’ve been planning on taking two days there; have to figure out where to stay.
Goodnight, Max Patch!