Sunday, July 29, 2007

Hike: Nantahala Outdoor Center

5/3/98--campsite near NOC - 134.? miles

If yesterday was a cranky day I don't know what today was, but I'm glad to finish it in the privacy of my tent, and not in a shelter. The rest are tenting nearby, so it's still group life and there are still great advantages to group life--I spent the afternoon looking forward to comparing notes on how good the Trail smelled, coming down from Wesser Bald, and N. rewarded me with her observation of how much keener our senses of smell are getting (as for our scent--well, we all showered in Franklin, we didn't think we were due for one yet today.) But I feel more surrounded by the group life than of it.

I made an effort today to hike more independently--I cooked lunch, instead of snacking as the Fantastic Four have been doing recently, and I stuck with my slower pace even thought both my feet and Diva Dog's were up to a faster day, in part to let the crowd stay ahead of me, in part to really enjoy our descent. It wasn't bad at all, really. Sure, patches were steep and rocky, but most of it was beautiful, wild-flower-covered switchbacks. The morning had been stormy (my first t'storm while actually hiking) then cloudy, so the sunny-ness of the descent was also a treat. I got to hike myself dry.

The Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) was fantastic--the best food I've had since Philly, for one, and then the staff at the outfitter were super-friendly and supportive of thru-hikers. Two gear weight compromises: after the storm this morning in my lightweight running jacket I decided it was time to shell out for Goretex. It's just too damn cold to be so wet so high up. I'd been wondering for awhile how it would do in heavy, sustained rain and the answer is I don't want to find out. (The pants are doing fine--my legs generate so much heat it hardly matters.) The other weight compromise was on a thermarest. My foam is fine when I'm tenting, but not on a wooden sleeping platform. --MC

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