Another early morning so I can get a parking spot near the head trial. I'm hiking to Charlies Bunion, an eight-mile hike; 5541 ft. in elevation. The trail to Charlies Bunion is on the AT (The Appalachian Trail). What is unique about this section of the AT is that it's on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, so you hike in both states simultaneously.
By now, I had hiked the AT in several states, NJ, NY, CT, NH, ME, VA, NC, and TN.
On the way to the top, I meet a group of women backpacking to Mount LeConte for the night. We start chatting, and it turns out we are camping at the same campground. They invited me to join them for dinner the next day after they returned.
At the top of Charlie Bunion, it is foggy and cold. I'm not able to see anything. All I'm left with is my imagination, which lets me feel this beautiful view. However, I don't mind missing the view because this hike is about hiking on the Appalachian Trail. It's always such a spiritual hike for me to be a few hours on a trail that so many others have conquered throughout the years.
It's so cold that I can't stay long at the top of Charlies Bunion. Then, the wind started to pick up, and the snow became much heavier. Then there was a gift from mother nature. The wind clears the fog, and the view is absolutely stunning. It is gorgeous! Even though it is painful to take off my gloves, I have to do so to take pictures to share with you all.
There were quite a lot of people on the trail, but I'm able to have a few stretches of solitude along the path. I love it so much when I have the opportunity to be solid and silent with nature, just me and nature. The connection is strong and beautiful.
I'm driving up the mountain. My car is heavy and slow, and right away, I think, 'Oh my God, is my car having a problem?' It is a rapid downhill to panic and anxiety. I'm very quickly aware of what I'm doing to myself. I started talking loudly to myself. It's a whole conversation trying honestly to examine the situation. Nothing is wrong with my car. It's obviously something that I'm worried about. I ask myself one question: Did I ever have a problem to which I couldn't find a solution? So far, my answer is 'no'. So I tell myself just to calm down and enjoy the view. You might think it's a crazy process, but it's been a helpful tool to talk loud to myself and be clear about my emotions and feelings. Try it. I hope it will help you the same as it does for me.
I am the one that is responsible for creating this anxiety in my head. What a waste of energy!
I need to stop here for a second and share the incredible experience this journey has provided me. It's all about the people and the friendships I am creating along the way. If you read my first post, you will know that one of my worries was being lonely. I have been on the road for three weeks now, and not even once did I experience loneliness.
I share my second night with a glass of wine with Venus, Sherry, Alan, and Bruce, mesmerized by the fire. (Thank you, Sherry, for the cup of soup. It hit the spot!) I am sorry, but I can't remember all the names of the beautiful people I meet. I need to start writing it down. The next night I enjoyed grilled broccoli and a delightful conversation with my next-site neighbor at Explore Park. The next day I enjoyed an early evening hike and a meal with Nancy and Kirk (thank you guys for introducing me to the OMeal, it saved me on my cold nights). I spend a fun evening in Asheville with Moth (Anika), going to dinner near our hostel. In Bevard, I sit down for a lovely evening with the campground host, Rachel. I meet many people on the trails, like Cheryl from Florida. At Cades Cove campground, I enjoy an evening in front of a fire with Sue, Heather, Greg, and Ben. On a walk through the campground, I meet Ann and Dan, and they recommend I hike to Mount LeCount, an 11-mile hike with 6,593 elevations. Since there is no reception, we plan to try and hike on the same day, Wednesday. We didn't bump into each other, but my hike got extra special when I connected with Jessica and John from Philly.
Cheri and Scott from Florida are camping next to me in their RV at Smokemont Campground. Their kindness literally warmed me up when they invited me into their RV. Maybe I will accept their invitation to visit them in Florida. :) Remember the dinner I was invited to? I shared a fantastic evening with Betty, Virginia, Renee, Terry, Norie, and Mirka. I have absolute admiration for their strength and courage. Thank you, Renee, for the delicious chili dinner. I make tentative plans with Betty to hike Angel Landing in Zion, NP.
It is Thursday morning. I'm taking my time this morning and not rushing to any head trail. But, oh my God, it is so cold! Getting out of my warm cocoon is a mental challenge. I'm sitting in my car with the heat on, but it is not warming up as quickly as I wish. Learning to wait for the good stuff is a welcoming lesson. Although I am, at my core, a person with a lot of gratitude for life and the little things around me, it's nice to know there is always room for more.
Tips from my experience.
Here is a tip I would like to share, or more correctly, pass along. The last thing I want to do is to go outside in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. Now don't laugh....okay, go ahead! It is, in a way, funny what we sometimes do to solve problems.
I wear an adult diaper, yes, I know I'm not there yet, but the trick works for me. I just hope my brain will not get used to peeing in my pants! :) I do remove them right away and put them in a ziplock bag.
Thankfully, it's not an occurrence that happens every night, but it's a good backup plan.
I am grateful for the lady that posted this on one of the Facebook groups to which I belong!