We’re out of North Carolina. That’s the view from our campsite on Doll Flats, just over the Tennessee border, a couple nights ago. It was lovely, obviously. We had just cruised over the Roan Mountain area, a series of balds with views for miles, and had been lucky enough to do it on a sunny, warm afternoon. (We are working on some extremely silly farmer’s tans… even sillier if we get gaiters.) We met Fast Lane, a nomadic trail angel with a trunk full of discounted post-Easter candy, and Pop and Gweem, a local couple on a day hike, whom we hope we are very much like when we’re old. They wrote down our trail names in a tiny spiral notebook.
Lately, it’s been hot. Funny that I left the Trail in freezing rain, six days ago, to attend a wedding, and returned to a few scorchers in the mid 80s. The sun was punishing during afternoon climbs. We don’t yet have leaves overhead, though suddenly there’s been a glorious profusion of wildflowers. Also funny, we did our longest day yet during just such weather: 29 miles. I slept well that night, lulled by white noise from the nearby waterfall.
I won’t lie, my limits are often stretched out here. Not just with mileage. I believe it is mostly good, though not easy. For instance, tonight we are camped in the lee of a ridge, a mile past the shelter. It’s sprinkling. We await the thunderstorm, which will arrive any minute, and if the forecast is correct, will include wind and maybe hail too. The tent is pitched low and tight. We had planned to stay at the shelter, had finished our miles for the day. I had hung the perfect bear line, and was quite proud of it. But J. pointed out that we were completely exposed up there on the mountaintop. The shelter was full and the campsites were all vulnerable. He suggested we walk on as dusk approached, and seek a better place. This rattled several of my limits: to go on when I thought we were done, and to look with no guarantee we would find. J. has an automatic trust that I lack. But he also had the voice of reason in this case, so I plunged ahead with him. And so here we are, cozy and dry so far, and full of Knorr’s Sides Broccoli Alfredo Noodles.
The owl is hooting, time for bed. Time, I hope, to let my limits rest for an hour or eight. Good night!