Day 12 (Thurs 4/23) – after an easy re-supply and good meal in Franklin, I caught a ride at 730am with Ms Beverley, a Franklin resident who shuttles hikers to and from Winding Stair Gap. It was a cold morning and I started off the day fairly slow and stiff. Knee pain still strong throughout the day. After about 7 miles, I caught up to Boogie, Whoopie, and Snoopy; three hikers about my age whom I’ve been leapfrogging for the past few days. We hiked the rest of the day together and ended our 16 mile day with a mile ascent up Copper Ridge Bald to Cold Spring Shelter. We packed the shelter full and got a fire going, temperatures were to reach 33 that night.
Day 13 (Fri 4/24) – We awoke to another cold morning, but a mile or so into the hike, and about 1000 ft below the shelter, temperatures quickly rose. This would be the third consecutive blue bird, full sunshine day of hiking. Beautiful. The next obstacle was Wesser Bald, which was a long hike up, but not too grueling. We all stopped at the tower on Wesser for a little sunbathing and lunch. Next on the docket was a steep, grueling and technical climb down into the N.O.C. That descent has been the worst so far. Rocky, rooty, and quickly descending. Not good for a hobbled left knee. Regardless of the pain and first sunburn of the hike, I made it to NOC by 3pm.
Day 13 Cont. – We did some AT recon and found that there was some free campsites down by the river about a half mile from the NOC complex. We set up camp, jumped in the 42 degree water for a quick bath, and then set off for food and beer. While headed back to the complex for dinner, I decided to wear my crocs to air the feet out, unfortunately this would be a bad decision, and lead to my trail name.
While ascending the rocky shoreline of our campsite, my foot slipped out of my croc and sliced right onto the sharp edge of a rock below. This caused a one inch incision from the joint of my right big toe to the middle of the toe. It took a few minutes, but the blood ran copiously…after having hiked 12 miles, I nearly passed out. Luckily Snoopy was close behind me, saw my face turn white and was quick with water and some beef jerky.
A previous thru hiker, Josh, was also at camp and had a bandage and duct tape to wrap it and stop the bleeding. Once I gained full awareness of the situation, I headed back to the NOC complex to find a shower. While stumbling around, I ran into another hiker, EZ, who I’d passed a few times on the trail. He told me this was his zero day and he’d treated himself to a nice cabin. Once he noticed my discomfort, he offered a shower and roof for the night. I readily agreed.
With EZ’s hospitality, I was able to get myself and my wound clean and dry for the night. EZ and I went down to Wesser BBq for an early dinner and beers; for which I payed in hopes to compensate him for his generous hospitality. Hopefully I will catch up with him soon to further repay the debt.
Day 14 (Sat 4/25) – I woke up completely refreshed in a warm bed. EZ departed around 8am, and I headed down to NOC for breakfast to await the arrival of Warpzilla, Footlocker and Hazel Mae. The crew I’d been hiking with was already there and greeted my arrival with enthusiasm. After some talk about the climb up to Cheoah Bald out of here, and the past days descent; the conversation quickly turned to my ailing knee and sliced toe. It was decided that my trail name would now be The Law…as in Murphy’s Law…anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.
Now, Warp, Footlocker, Hazel and myself are having a few coldbeers at the Nantahala Brewing Co. Although I’ve had some injuries and tough times, spirits are high and I’m ready to get back on the trail. Just have a few days of recovery to get through before I can get moving again.
Cheers and happy zero day from Bryson City,