Day 82: 700 club

Catawba Mountain Shelter [mile 705.7]

Seven-hundred miles, baby! Seems like only a week ago it was 600! 😉 Cause for celebration!

Camping is restricted here in the McAfee Knob area. It’s Memorial Day Sunday. And this little camping area has me… and a bunch of guys here to party. They’re hammering, hammering, hammering. Is it wood? They’re chopping a massive amount of wood? And I smell lighter fluid? This doesn’t bode well for them knowing about hiker midnight! It might be the night to break open a fresh pair of earplugs.

This was a gorgeous day. It started out rocky—I mean literally rocky. The Dragon’s Tooth section from yesterday wasn’t quite finished; I hadn’t gotten quite as far as Lost Spectacles Gap. Which is excellent news, if you wear glasses and are superstitious.

When i did get to the Gap, it was flat and lovely… and guess what was finally in bloom? The rhododendrons! Great happy bursts of fuscia tucked among the waxy dark leaves. The trail went up and up in an area that felt like the Pacific Northwest to me, although I’ve never been there. I think it was the spruce trees. At least, I think they were spruces. Anyway, the trees interrupted great piles of rock that had to be crawled over or squeezed between. Fun again!

Eventually came the descent, and the half-mile roadwalk to the Catawba Market—a gas station and grocery store with a little grill inside. I got a breakfast sandwich and two cups of coffee, and some miscellaneous snacks and things to get me to Daleville. Outside was a veritable United Nations of hikers—two Germans and a guy from Israel. OK, a very small United Nations.

My favorite day of hiking: two days out from town when the food bag is nearly empty, and you hit a little grocery store for snacks! For lunch today I had nutritious and healthy circus peanuts (high-fructose corn syrup and orange dye no. 3) and Pringles (delicious, delicious slices of salted particle board). For dinner I had Oreos. How many Oreos? All of them!

After the grocery the trail went through a huge meadow. The grass was waist high, the sky was blue, and there were more varieties of butterlies than I’ve ever seen: blue ones, purple ones, black ones with blue wingtips. The sky was blue, too—so blue and perfect that it was hard not to smile. So I smiled!

At the top of the meadow hill the trail slipped back into shadow. The trees were thick, and the terrain was soft. Uphill and downhill, but soft. It smelled like pine. And eventually it went down, down, down to a parking lot full of cars. There must have been 60 of them! Then I remembered that it’s Memorial Day weekend, and that McAfee Knob is on the other side of the road. McAfee Knob—supposedly the most photographed site on the whole trail. It’s another one of those famous areas you can Google for images. And the dayhikers and weekenders are here in force!

I decided to camp here and tackle the Knob in the morning. Tomorrow’s another short day, then I’ll get into Daleville on Tuesday.

I ran into some familiar faces today. Remember back at Wayah Bald Shelter? Freezing rain for two days, snow overnight, and my tent ended up flooding? There were two guys in the shelter that night. And one of them is in this bubble. He was off the trail for three weeks, but he’s back. I keep forgetting his trail name, which kills me. Famous explorer, or a cowboy… hrm. It’ll come to me as soon as I hit ‘publish.’ Cody… oh, crap. I forget. Anyway, nice to see him. I also saw Planet and Rig… or heard them, anyway. They went past here while I was changing, so I couldn’t run out to chat. They recognized my tent, though, and gave a shoutout.

Tomorrow: McAfee Knob! But alas, I’m out of Oreos. I tell you, I’m sick of fast food. All I eat in town is cheeseburgers. pizza, and a salad—which usually means iceburg lettuce and a cherry tomato. I wonder if Daleville has a restaurant that’s not a fast food place or a diner? I just have the urge for an actual meal. With a vegetable.

I went a little crazy with the pictures today. Sorry about that!

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Categories: Appalachian Trail | Tags: | 27 Comments

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27 thoughts on “Day 82: 700 club

  1. Lisa milstead

    Love living vicariously through you! No worries about over-doing pics. I don’t think that’s possible!

  2. Yes keep the pics coming. Your blog makes me smile too. Like Lisa I’m living vicariously too until I get there next year

  3. Blackbird

    It’s something like a Seven Mile waterless section of dry, dry, dry ridge walking going into Daleville after Lambert’s Meadow Shelter. Plan accordingly or go thirsty, very thirsty!

  4. Blackbird

    I just checked and AWOL’s guide puts the stretch of waterlessness at 9.4 miles long. Zoinks.

  5. It’s been an amazingly cold Memorial Day weekend, and I wondered if you were cold. The pictures are great, but your word pictures are better. I was wincing when you were talking about the flat wall downhill in one if your previous posts. Glad today was a good one.

  6. Marge

    Great happy bursts of fuscia, Pringles and ALL the oreos! 700+ miles Club! yay! Enjoy the hike, and you’ll b in the 800 Club before you know it! Watched PBS Mem Concert. One song says,”when u walk through a storm, hold ur head up high”….That can’t be helpful for you, right!! Love you

  7. I have been enjoying your posts these past couple of weeks. You are doing such a great job building a virtual hike with your words and pictures. I put my vote in for you doing a flip-flop if you are wanting to complete the trail this year. I think your chances for better weather would increase. You have paid your dues for bad weather.

    • Right!? I keep thinking that!

      I might still be OK for a regular NOBO. Time will tell.

      How’s that leg of yours? I think of you often and hope you’re healing up!

      • Red

        I have a follow up next week with the ortho doc and hopefully will get more info about my leg. It is great that the brake did not affect my knee replacement. I putting all my efforts into getting ready for long crew at Fest.

      • Long crew will be AWESOME!

      • Red

        And I think you are right you might be just fine for a regular NOBO.

  8. Shari wb

    700 miles is unbelievable! 700!! Amazing. And i was amazed at my measely 26.2! Haha. You rock!

  9. Blackbird

    @ Shari
    Those 13.1 stickers on cars always make me roll my eyes. Hikers do that every day for weeks on end across rugged mountain terrain AND with 30 lb. packs on their backs!

  10. StrayNoMore

    I would like to tell you that the exact restaurant you seek is just around the corner in Daleville, but I wouldn’t consider it the case. Unfortunately you just missed a great place at the Homeplace just down the mountain when you crossed Route 311. Very good home style (AYCE) place that gets crazy packed on Sundays.

    And like so much of your blog it isn’t whats behind you that matters, it is what lies ahead. So here are the offerings so you can think about it ahead of time. Fast food consists of Wendy’s, Bojangles and a Pizza Hut. There is a decent Mexican restaurant just across 220 near the trail, Rancho Viejo. Also probably my pick would be the Three little pigs barbecue. It has been there a long time and has always been a good place. I think someone said on another blog that hikers get free banana pudding for dessert. Pomegranate is a somewhat new restaurant the you come kinda of close to after Daleville when you cross route 11. I have heard mixed review, mostly great but somewhat pricey. However it is a real restaurant.

    Keep up the great walk. I envy your adventure. Enjoy the contemplative path you are taking.

    • Thanks so much for those tips! I kind of wish there was a travel guide to the whole AT, with restaurant and lodging reviews!

  11. Peg

    Congratulations on 700. I’m enjoying every word and with you every step.

  12. Donna

    “700+” Congratulations,girlfriend! Love the pics and colorful writings. Happy Memorial Day & keep on smiling!

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