We left Standing Bear Farm this morning with our sights set on a big day of hiking. My shin miraculously stopped hurting and the sun was shining down on us all day. This was our best day of weather in awhile and we were going to take advantage of the heat and sunlight.
We had some pretty steep ascents in the morning. We climbed to the top of Snowbird Mountain where there’s an FAA tower. I had never seen one before, so it was very interesting to see up close. I don’t know too much about them, but they’re used for air traffic control. Snowbird is a grassy bald, so we decided to soak up the sun and take a break here. We finally remembered to put on sunscreen this morning. Our faces were already burnt, but I don’t even think about putting on sunscreen unless it’s hot outside. I’d say it was in the 60s today, which may not seem hot for some of you, but when you’ve been hiking in 30-40 degree weather, 60 is a heat wave!
Around 4, we summited Max Patch, one of the sweetest mountains on the entire AT. It’s a huge grassy bald with 360 degree views of the surrounding mountains, including the Smokies. And you know, it was awesome to look back on the Smokies and know that we had conquered that beast. And it was even better since we enjoyed the views as we took in some trail magic from Roger and Rose, a couple from South Carolina. They fed us hot dogs, fruit, Little Debbie’s, chocolates, soda, and beer. I was really craving fruit today, so this unexpected trail magic really hit the spot. A Natty Ice in one hand and an apple in the other; all of the steep climbs today were so worth it.
We decided to hike a few more miles as we left Max Patch around 5. Normally, we would stop hiking for the day around then, but it was so nice out today, we didn’t want to stop hiking. We weren’t tired either, so we kept on truckin’. The terrain was fairly flat the rest of the evening, so we easily made it to our campsite for the night around 7. Fellow thru-hikers Minnesota Pete, Sunshine, Handstand, and Push-up are here as well. We’re camped out right near a creek, providing a much better background noise to fall asleep to than the snoring I’ve had to deal with for the past few nights. We’re feeling good after doing 18.5 today and 18.4 yesterday. I did my math wrong yesterday when I said we had done 17.8. I may be becoming a better hiker out here, but I’m not so sure it will make me a better mathematician. It’s looking like we’ll be doing a “shorter” day tomorrow and hiking 14.6 miles. Wait, I better check my math on that one…