Monday, March 8th, 2021
I was happy to finally get some rest. It was much warmer overnight, so no frozen toes! We walked by a vacant church on our way to the road, and were kind of bummed we didn’t hike further to sleep inside it. I didn’t pack enough food so we caught a hitch into Cherokee. Our driver was a man from South Africa who had moved to Charleston, North Carolina.
“Do you ever pick up hitchhikers?”
He dropped us off by McDonald’s where we grabbed breakfast before resupplying at Food Lion. We hitched back in a small pickup truck with a guy named Rusty. Middle Brother was the only one in the cab and after we got to our destination, he told us he thought old Rusty was a few beers deep in his morning.
We could see the mountains peeking through the trees as we hiked the rest of the morning on leafy single track. After our lunch break and the climb that followed, we ran back into Chestnut. He hadn’t eaten yet, so he decided to hang back behind us.
The air suddenly got real smoky. We’d find out later that this was caused by a controlled burn in the area nearby. The trail ahead was beautiful, but it got rough. There were never ending climbs and I lost count of how many times we forded the creek. There was a long steep climb that included blowdowns making it feel like we were hiking through an obstacle course. By the time I reached the top, I was out of energy.
We only had about 1 mile left on the day, but I was in dyer need of some calories. I told the guys I’d meet them at camp. I had to eat. I ate my cold ramen, then hiked down to the equally cold camp area next to a creek. During this journey, we would find ourselves sleeping next to creeks quite often. I was enjoying it. The movement of the water produced “white noise” which helped me sleep well during most of the nights on the Benton MacKaye Trail. Today’s terrain was helpful too! I got a good workout and was feeling exhausted.
19.5 miles (31.4 km)
Jump Ahead to the Benton MacKaye Trail: Part 4
Jump Back to the Benton MacKaye Trail: Part 2