Yes, we have finally taken a zero, so here is an update on our Quest.
This Quest is a series of sections, one after the other. Each time we resupply and spend a night in a hostel or hotel, we start a new section.
After today's zero, we will start section eight. Section seven kicked our asses and humbled us.
So, we went 31 days without taking a zero day. We managed this by planning short (nero) days when we were due to hit a town. We would get into town early, secure lodgings, shower, eat, do laundry and resupply during that day. After a night spent indoors, we would head out again, refreshed and ready to hike.
There comes a time though, that you need to slow down to less than the approximate 2 mph that we have been moving and take a day to just rest and recharge your mental batteries. I'm enjoying that recharge now. I don't have an urge to head out. I just want to lay in my hammock and relax.
Eventually, I will detail each of the sections, but for now I will just describe our last section. Hot Springs, NC to Erwin, TN. 69.3 miles.
We were rained on for four days straight. I know that lots of hikers have longer stretches of rain and worse conditions, but this hit us hard, because we have had some good weather up to this point.
Each day we would get poured on while we walked. Drenching our clothes and compromising our rain gear. All of our socks were wet. Our shoes never got a chance to dry out. It started weighing on our minds. Then on the fourth day, the weather got a little dangerous.
We were planning on doung 13.6 miles to a camping area, but the temps had moved down into the low 40s and the wind was raging at 30 mph or more. We could feel our heat being sucked out of us as we tried to keep moving to generate as much heat as we could. Stopping to rest in the woods was out of the question. I started to feel the beginning effects of hypothermia.
We arrived at a shelter just 10.1 miles into the day where we could get mostly out of the weather and after a couple of minutes, decided to call it a day and stay in the shelter. We would have to make up the miles the next day.
We pulled off our wet clothes and got into the dry ones we keep deep in our packs and jumped into our quilts.
Since I had no dry socks to wear, I use the old bread bag trick where you put on the bags between two pairs of socks and it keeps your feet warm, if not dry. I had been carrying the bags since we started, hoping to not need them.
We laid around as more hikers came in and filled the shelter. There were a couple of hammockers who had no pads, so had to set up. Looking at the rain and wind whipping around their tarps, reinforced our decision to stay in the shelter.
After dinner, I removed the bags to let my feet dry some and put one damp pair of darn tough wool socks on to dry them overnight with body heat. They were pretty dry in the morning. At least until I had too put on my still very wet shoes.
The last day was much better. The day was warm and the sun was shining most of the time. If fact, it was a beautiful day.
It took me awhile to notice it though, as I just wanted to get to town, take a shower and get clean(ish) dry clothes again.
Finally, near the latter part of the day, I realized how nice it was, listened to some good, inspiring tunes and I finished the day strong.
We secured two spots at Uncle Johnnys covered hammock area, so my back is happy. Our gear is pretty much dried out and we don't have to walk again until tomorrow.
Today we are relaxing. We only have to get some resupply and eat some more town food. My body is really doing well. My mind is what needed this zero.
I hope we can continue to take these rest days more often as we continue along the trail.
Tomorrow, we hike.
EarthTone and LoGear