Sunday, 4/19

AT Miles = 15.7 / 388.2
Other Miles = 0.7 / 17.4
Total Miles = 16.4 / 405.6

It was colder than I expected last night, although the fact that there are still patches of snow on top of Roan Mountain should probably have clued me in. I am a bit slow sometimes. When it is cold I usually add my down jacket to the insulation under my hammock, and I should have done that last night. Still, I was only a little cold and slept well for the most part.

I got up once during the night and the sky was mostly clear with lots of stars visible. When I got up this morning at about 7:00, the sky was mostly cloudy and we could see heavier clouds moving in from the west. I was off a few minutes after 8:00 and around 9:30 it started raining. The last forecast I had heard was last Friday morning when I was in Erwin, and at that time they were calling for lightning storms this morning. (Why do people call them thunder storms when thunder is just noise, and it's the lightning that can kill you?) After coming down off Roan Mountain the trail climbs and series of balds, and eventually follows along a high, bald ridge called the Roan Highlands. The rain was constant but light, so not much of a nuisance, but I was nervously watching and listening for any signs of a lightning storm as this was no place to be during such an event. Fortunately, no lightning ever materialized. I made it down to the road in Applehouse Gap at around 3:00pm, and walked the
third of a mile down the road to the B&B/Hostel. I could have stayed in the hostel for $18, but sleeping in a tightly packed bunkroom with a bunch of other smelly, wet hikers, and being 17th or 18th in line to use the shower, just didn't appeal to me today, so I sprang for ther bucks for one of the B&B rooms instead. The price of my room includes breakfast in the morning, and I hope it's a big, solid breakfast. The innkeeper even drove we to the next town west (in Tennessee) so I cxould get cash at an ATM, then drove me back east into North Carolina and up to a local steak house where I just had dinner. Two passes through the salad bar, a large Sirloin cooked medium, a baked potato, severl glasses of sweet tea (the waitress eventually left ther pitcher on my table), three servings of "Texas toast", and a bowl of peach cobbler. The whole thing, with tip, set me back $21. My B&B host was right, the place isn't much on ambiance, but the steak is good.

I am just under 25 miles from Dennis Cove and the Kincora Hostel, my next planned stop. I could do an 18.8 mile day tomorrow, and have only 6 miles left on Tuesday to get there. That would give me plenty of time to do laundry and stuff if I wanted to. On the other hand, this rain is supposed to end tomorrow morning and I could take my time eating breakfast and get a later start and maybe avoid getting wet. There are some spots with water and camping before the 18 mile mark, and with the nice weather it might be more enjoyable to be hiking than hanging out at a hostel. I'll be in Damascus ("the friendliest town on the AT") by Thursday or, more likely, Friday. I'll probably take a zero there and do laundry, shop for my resupply, and hopefully get computer access and get all my photos processed and uploaded while I'm there.

While hiking today I was thinking that it might be fun to try to photo-document what a "typical" day on the trail is like, and upload the photos as a separate kind of photo-essay to my web server. Does that sound stupid, or might you be interested in such a thing? A day on the trail is really pretty simple, and I'm not sure there's much to tell, but I might be wrong.

Oh, I should hit 400 miles tomorrow! Another milestone.

One more thing. I keep thinking I should add an explanbation for those mileage totals I put at the top of every entry. At the beginning of my hike I decided I wanted to try to keep track of all the non-AT miles I hike, just because I was curious how many miles one actually walked in order to complete a thru-hike, and if it was greatly more than the miles that count as forward progress along the Appalachian Trail itself. So far it looks like there aren't all that many extra miles to walk. My definition of which extra miles to include is somewhat arbitrary, but basically I include any miles intentionally walked with my pack on. So today I walked 0.2 miles down a side-trail to stop at OverMountain Shelter fpor lunch, then 0.2 miles back up the side-trail to the AT. Then at thew end of the day I walked 0.3 miles down to the B&B along the road. I included those 0.3 miles because I walked rather than trying to hitch. When I went into Erwin last Thursday I was trying to hitch with two other
hikers and we ended up walking about a mile before we got a ride, but I didn't count that mile because I wasn't planning to walk it. And, of course, when I am in town I often end up walking all over town to get all my town chores done, but I don't try to include any of those miles. Like I said, the definition is rather arbitrary.

Wow, I am really rambling tonight. It must be all thaqt protein flooding my system. There is microwave popcorn in my room, as well as a refrigerator with cold soda in it, so I think I will settle back and indulge while watching a movie on TV.

Allen Freeman