Bumble bee trail magic at Max Patch
I stayed in a bunkhouse for 12. It became full by morning, when 2 new roomies showed up at about 2am. Since I don’t sleep well in group bunk areas, it didn’t bother my sleep with the arrivals at 2am. I resupplied for 4 days (3 days planned to get to Hot Springs, plus one extra day). Pop tarts, oatmeal, spam, packaged mash potato flakes, pasta, coffee, and snickers.
Welcome back North Carolina! From Standing Bear to Max Patch, where I am writing this while in my tent before I read my book and sleep, feeling quite anxious to wake before or at sunrise. It will be spectacular! The first 4.4 miles to Max Patch were quite steep, with no leveling til the top. During the hike, I met Woodford, who was southbound, finishing his hike of entire AT. I also met Maria, with whom I had good life discussions, as I did later with Vera, who I met, when she was still camped just off the AT trail. She had arrived there about 11:30pm and decided to not hike anymore. Now that we are out of the Smokies, there are more tenting options, not necessary to stay at or near a shelter. I also met Farmer and Goose. Due to my socializing during the hike today, I didn’t arrive until about 7:30pm. This left just enough time pick out a tent site, to put up my tent and get to a good vantage spot to see the sunset. The sunset from Max Patch is OMG! The view from and terrain of Max Patch is the most beautiful I’ve seen to date on the trail. It brought tears to my eyes seeing the beauty of the surrounding landscape. Then the landscape became partially silhouettes as the sun began to lower in the sky, and the the OMG! colors and landscape, while sitting high at about 4300 feet. Max Patch is a grassy plateau that allows for views for many miles, 360 degree views. I’m camped on part of this spectacular place.
I hiked 14 miles today. Though my left knee is still bothersome, it’s performing well enough. I plan to hike about 11.7 miles tomorrow to a campsite with nearby water. This will leave me only about 7.5 miles to hike to Hot Springs on Tuesday.
It was a hard hiking day for me with the NC’s distain for switchbacks. NC loves to take the short path from top to bottom of a mountain, almost straight up and down the center. It was also so worth the night and morning here. It’ll be freezing or freezing-like temperatures tonight and in the morning. My bag is rated to 16 degrees Fahrenheit, so I’m warm but for my hands and face, since I sleep with my hands near my head and my head out of the sleeping bag. I will likely wear my hair buff as a face mask and might wear my gloves tonight.
As hard as my daily life can be, hiking up and down mountains, wearing the same sweaty clothes 4–6 days in a row, before washing them, the no showers and constantly making and breaking down my home and bed to carry on my back for miles, I am in paradise!