Day 30 - 08 April/Monday Unless something unusual happens, we have decided our 2019 Thru-Hike attempt is becoming a 177 mile AT section hike. After several weeks which included many short mile days and extra zero days to rest feet, and (when possible) ice, compression, elevation and hikers’ vitamin i (ibuprofen), we have decided our wonderful adventure is stopping. Happy’s loving and adventurous spirit is ready for 2,000 more miles, but her ankles are having trouble doing more than five miles per day even at a slow pace. We have previously hiked on the AT all twelve months of the year for section hikes and day hikes... we know pain and suffering are part of the trail, but we have reached our threshold and do not want to risk more serious injury involving potentially torn muscles and connective tissue in both of Happy’s feet. We looked at the miles, elevation and available food in deciding to go north or south on 8 April. On 8 April, we hiked 5.4 miles backwards (southbound) to Birch Spring Tentsite at mile 172.3. Tomorrow, 9 April, we will hike 5 to 7 miles southbound to get a shuttle from Fontana Dam, North Carolina to our car in the Atlanta suburbs. Hiking such a long section of the AT together has been one of the greatest adventures of our lives.
Day 29 - 07 April/Sunday - Our first miles in Tennessee. We hiked 5.4 miles to Mollies Ridge Shelter at mile 177.7. This morning was foggy after constant rain all night. We had planned to hike farther than 5.4 miles but Happy’s feet were hurting. It turned out to be lucky we stopped because it allowed us to avoid a severe thunderstorm we would otherwise have been hiking through.
Day 28 - 06 April/Saturday Hiked 8.0 miles to Birch Spring Tentsite at mile 172.3 inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The hike included 2,966 feet of ascents and 484 feet of descents. Met our second Chinese citizen hiking on the AT - a kind young woman from northeast China near the border with Russia and North Korea. Her name is 赵婧仪 but she prefers Daniel (Daniel Zhao) as a nickname, after the Harry Potter character.
Day 25 - 03 April/Wednesday - Hiked 9.3 miles to Brown Fork Gap at mile 153.1 and camped at the rim/top of the gap. We are the only tent here tonight, as of dark (8 PM on this side of the mountain). It was a beautiful, fairly warm and sunny day of hiking. Only the last two miles included an extremely steep climb.