Day 20 (April 12th): Mollies Ridge Shelter to Derrick Knob Shelter

Miles hiked today: 12
Miles hiked total: 188.8
Miles to go: 1996.5

We crossed over the 2000-mile mark today! (Meaning I have less than 2000 miles to go – awwww yeah, baby!)

When I woke up this morning, I learned that my phone had turned on during the night and that my external battery (it’s built in to my phone case) was completely drained, as well as my phone itself. I keep my phone in my sleeping bag with me to keep the battery from draining (heh heh) from the cold, and have never had this problem before. I was pretty bummed out because I have 3 more days in the Smokies and use my phone to take pictures.

Thankfully, the rest of the day improved immensely.

I started hiking this morning with Toasted Toad, Townie, and Good N Plenty, but we all quickly fell into our own paces. Townie and I move a bit faster than the other two and we eventually got ahead of them. The hike today was beautiful and I wish I had pictures to share, but my phone was off limits for the day while I tried to reserve what was left of the battery (only 30% or so).

Before getting to Spence Field Shelter where I stopped for a quick snack break, I walked through a beautiful meadow and had to avoid a lot of horse poop on the trail. (You’re allowed to bring horses on the trail and to the shelters, but you can’t tent. Oi!) For a second I thought the poop might’ve belonged to a bear and got really excited. The poop was fresh, you see, and I thought the bear might’ve still been around. But then I realized a horse was responsible and kept hiking. The smell was a bit unbearable.

After my snack at the shelter, I hiked to the top of Rocky Top and was awarded with some fine views of the Smokies. I ate my lunch up there and was eventually joined by Littlefoot and Townie. (Littlefoot is in his 20s and I have no idea where his trail name comes from. I believe he’s from North Carolina. I first met him back at the NOC.) The three of us hiked the rest of the day together and discussed our plans for the Smokies.

I have a plan to hike the Smokies in 5 full days and leave the park early morning on the 6th day. As a thru-hiker, we have 7 days to hike through the Smokies, but I’m not interested in hanging around that long. We had good weather yesterday and today, and tomorrow looks good, but Monday and Tuesday are supposed to be rainy and cold and the weather is supposed to get worse as the week progresses, so I’m interested in getting out as soon as I can. Also, all the restrictions are a bit of a drag. The Smokies are beautiful and I’m enjoying my time here, but I don’t want to overstay my welcome.

Townie seems interested in hiking the miles I have planned, but Toasted Toad and Good N Plenty are a bit more hesitant, and Littlefoot is planning to go into Gatlinburg for resupply, so he’ll be a day behind.

I’m eager to be out of the Smokies, too, so that I can talk with my parents! Yesterday, homesickness set in and it’s such bad timing. I think it finally hit me because Chrissy is going back to NH and is planning on dropping some of my things off back home, which means she gets to see my family, and I’m a little jealous she gets to see them when I’m unable to. So all I can think about right now is that the sooner I leave the Smokies, the sooner I can call my parents to say hey.

When I finally got to the shelter tonight, a hiker heard about what happened with my phone and let me use his external charger to charge my phone. It’s now at 90%. Woot! Perfect timing because tomorrow I’ll be hiking up to Clingmans Dome, which is the highest point on the AT, and the weather is supposed to be perfect. Clear skies (and views) ahead!

TTFN

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