July 24, 2015

Writing this next to the pool at a Motel 6 in Asheville. The hiking has officially ended. Actually, it ended yesterday when I got into an Uber on the Blue Ridge Parkway. So. I woke up yesterday after having barely slept, as usual. Pulled the stuff together, charged my phone the rest of the way, and set off. It was awful. Not the whole day, but a lot of it. I can honestly say I couldn't have gotten as far as I did without Bix. Anytime the incline got especially steep, I'd let him walk ahead, and he's gotten so much better about not pulling, but he knew what I wanted him to do, and he would sled dog me right up the hills, occasionally looking back to check in with me. Little wonder dog. My mountain goat. The guide said we'd go from 5000 feet to 2000 or something like that, so I figured it'd be a downhill day, but ohhh there was uphill too. Enough downhill to break my knees and enough uphill to make curse the mountains. A lot. We saw the place where Whats-His-Name Vanderbilt of Biltmore Mansion fame had a hunting lodge or something, and there was a really spectacular view there. Mountains are better with a few clouds. And then we went down and up and down and the trail was poorly marked and a guy gave Bixby some water. And then we climbed Ferrin Knob, and honestly, screw Ferrin Knob. Halfway up I had a moment of absolute clarity, and that clarity was get me the hell off this trail. It had started raining and the lilies were lovely but honestly I can find lilies not on top of a mountain (that doesn't even have a view of anything) in the middle of a thunderstorm holding a ski pole. So we went up and then we went down and I prayed to not get struck by lightning and then we crossed into Bent Creek, which is an experimental forest that doesn't allow overnight camping, and it was probably the warning signs and the rain and feeling ready to be done, but that place was spooky as all get out. And we walked and walked and walked and it was fairly flat, the trail itself was, the mountain we were on the side of was not, it went down down down and that was eerie too. Anyway, we were booking it and we were only supposed to go two miles but then it had been 40 minutes and then an hour and hopelessness happened and then FINALLY after a million miles of walking the Chestnut Cove Overlook was there and I pulled Lake Powhatan Campground up on phone and it was still a million more miles away and I called an Uber and 16 minutes later I was on my way to Asheville. I mean, I was already on my way to Asheville, but I was headed there a lot faster. And that was where my stint on the MST ended. Adios, trail.