Location: Beech Mountain, NC
I left the hostel this morning after paying the caretaker five dollars for letting me stay. It was every bit of 18̊F outside. I said goodbye to the brother and headed out on the trail. The morning was clear, but the forest and trail were frozen. I can feel the frozen ground after several miles of walking. Usually the spongy trail lessens the shock on my knees, but in the last few days I have noticed more pains in my leg joints. The terrain was up and down for 24 miles, but I completed the big climbs early in the day. I rushed as fast as I could down the trail because mom would be waiting for me at 19E on the NC-TN border at 5:00pm. My pack was light since I ate almost everything I had last night. I stopped very little to break for anything other than gather some water from the near frozen streams in the mountains.
As I neared 19E, I saw a lot of along the trail. The area is notorious for vandalism by locals. Locals in many places are disgruntled about the AT passing through their area because often parts of private land were seized by the government so that the trail could be continuous. Locals near 19E are notorious for vandalizing cars left at the trailhead and dumping everything from beer bottles to refrigerators along a stretch of the AT that follows a deep ravine next to a road.
Mom was at the road when I arrived, and I climbed into the car excited to go to our house at Beech Mountain for a day’s rest. I have been pushing hard since I took a day off in Pearisburg, VA, and I certainly could use the rest and a taste of home to restore my mental and physical health.