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Franklin to Fontana

Made it all the way from the Nantahala Outdoor Center to Fontana Dam. We were treated to loads of views atop Vistas and balds but the prize did not come without struggle. I’m continuing to battle foot pains and twinge but my spirit is not broken. Wish me luck as I continue on into the smokies!

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Left Franklin and had a rough time. It was only a 6 mile hike up and an easy hitch out of town but the night was cold and everyone had an early bed time. My foot was giving me some twinges when I flex it and I’m forced to keep a nursing eye on it. It looks as though our good buddy samurai pushed on. Tried to block off some steam with harmonica practice alone in the forest but the diarrhea from shoneys made for a weird evening.

Enter the Black hole of despair. For 2 to 3 days I was was without a charger so I have no pictures, no journals and no record of what happened. The only thing I know is that my foot was giving my tons of problems and it was the first time that I felt like leaving the trail might be a reality (not that I’d want to leave, but it’s hard to argue with joint and bone pain). I basically hated life for two days and couldn’t even enjoy the views s from the bands and the firetowers due to the persistent pain. I thought about all the reasons why I started in the first place. It was a tough couple of days but my friends (which feel like family) pulled me up from the darkness and got me out of my head. Some stretching, nsaids and patience have done the trick thus far.

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After the pit of darkness we took a zero in the NOC. I hiked in a mile from the shelter and texted the cuddle puddle to come down for breakfast. Everyone came down and Firefox and peepshow even joined us. If you are having a hard time deciding, I’d recommend the hash Browns at rivers edge and peepshow even did a little trail magic. He figured that since he’d stock around to rest for the day that he would never catch up to us again due to his pace. Because of this he bought us all breakfast! We were speechless! The rest of the day consisted of relaxing, buying yet another pair of shoes to fighter my constant Blister and tendon issues. The day came to its logical conclusion and the, samurai, Odysseus and I hit the hay in a beautiful hotel room courtesy of samurai.

Woke up and left NOC early to get a head start. I knew I’d be taking it easy with new shoes and a finnicky foot and sure enough, the crew caught up only about a half hour or so behind me. We enjoyed some views atop balds, on the jump up, and we made it past the substantial elevation gain. The shoes seem to be helping and taking it slow with ample breaks can’t hurt either. Also, I have a new best friend and her name is ibuprofen. Getting to the shelter would’ve been too short a day so we pushed on to a designated campsite. Unfortunately it was full up. Sweeps Firefox and I pushed on to the gap but it seems that camping didn’t exist down in those parts just beyond. We made our way to the top of a mountain and stealth camped instead of pushing on. It was relaxing… I had easy Mac and tuna in tortillas with a dessert of pop tarts and my headlamp finally drained itself of batteries. I guess about 3 weeks is the cutoff for ordinary use! Good to know. Also, my dinner that evening was featured on the a major blog that follows Appalachian trail hikers.. .. Check it out!
http://www.appalachiantrials.com/top-instagram-pictures-appalachiantrail-week-7/
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I took break after break today. Started late after being treated to an awesome sunrise and sunset last night at our sweet little stealth spot. We caught the rest of the crew on their way out of camp and flip flopped for the better part of the day. Jacobs ladder was a chest grabber and the rest of the day was just a little bumpy. Met some more new hikers who left on the 8th but hadn’t taken a zero yet. I think it’s good to have balance and I believe we’re doing a good job of doing just that. Not to fast and not too slow. Not too much trail and just enough town. I enjoyed the same dinner as last night only this time I finished it with snickers bars and skittles. DQ pressed on while everyone else sheltered up before the rain. Tomorrow is Fontana and then I’m into the smokies! I’m so proud I made it this far. Many vets say that if you make it past the smokies you can easily do the whole trail….. Save emergencies and attitude. Hopefully I’ll make it past this first gauntlet!

Early rise to beat a rainstorm that got us anyway. We walked drenched to the Fontana dam and took in the marvelous scenery of a forest alive with green. From a few spots on the trail we could even make out the dam in the distance. Were almost to the smokies! Got to town and got trail magic to the village as soon as we arrived. Chores, food, box, dinner with Sam and even a nap on a chair in the village lobby. Stayed up late tending a fire with Odysseus and honey badger and heard his story about the army Rangers and getting lost in the snow. Also had a convo with dear old dad. It’s good to hear about home but patchy signal makes it more of a chore than it needs to be. Late night by the fire but a relaxing one that affords no complaints.

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