Day 34: May 18, 2022 Rice to Whistling Gap Elevation Profile +3838/-3940 14.9 Miles; Total 330.8 Miles

Last night just as I was all tucked in, Margarita walks by. She tells us she just scared a small bear about 1/4 mile down the trail from us. Great, now we are in prime Bear Territory. We secured our food and prayed for the best! Luckily, all was good on Rice Gap. No bears disturbed our sleep and all food was accounted for in the morning. Both Blue and I woke up early and hightailed it out if there.

Sunrise on Rice Gap

Today was all about climbing Balds. There was Big Bald, Little Bald and a fine view of Big Bald. By 10am, after a brief stop to collect water, Blue and I hit the view point of Big Bald. It was a grassy knoll with sprawling views in most directions. We took a couple of pictures and continued on.

View of Big Bald to the Background

As we are climbing and climbing and yes, more climbing, we run into Can Do. My shoulder was hurting me and I stopped to get some relief. Can Do had stopped also and I recognized him immediately. Two years ago when I had little to no intention to hike the Appalachian Trail, I started listening to a Podcast called The Mighty Blue on the AT. Mighty Blue hiked the AT in his 60’s and started this podcast about the trail, people who hike it and others who protect and preserve it. The more I listened, I realized that there was something mesmerizing about this route on the East Coast.

Me with Can Do on AT

Last week when I was in Hot Springs, I heard an interview on The Mighty Blue Podcast and it was Can Do. He was talking about a snake encounter, which I have some firsthand experience with now. It just so happened when I went into the ATC to get my Passport stamped, Can Do was there also. We struck up a conversation about all things snakes and thanked him for his helpful advise. And today, as I was climbing to Big Bald, I saw Can Do again. Once again, no one can hide on this trail! We talked for a bit, and then Blue and I moseyed along.

Golden Ragwort Lined the Trail

Around 1:30pm, I finally arrive on top of Big Bald. It was, well something pretty special. The mountains seem closer on this Bald. I’m not sure why that is. But once again, all the pain, suffering and agony was absent once my eyes took in the panorama view. The scenery was a bit different from other Balds as this one had some trees that bordered it. Pines, Firs and some whispy type tree that I’d never seen before.

Big Bald & Surrounding Mountains

We saw the Boys from Allen Gap on top of the Bald eating lunch. Stubs, Juanito and Dundee are thru-hiking northbound and we seem to be running into them more frequently. We met them in the rainstorm last Friday when we were all waiting for rides.

Stubs, Juanito & Dundee on top of Big Bald

Blue and I decided to head down and do a few more miles. We planned to hike fifteen miles a day, and today was the day we both were feeling good. The terrain was tough as we still had Little Bald to tackle. The scenery helped as it was completely foreign with small white flowers covering the ground, some red heather and small willowy trees. The miles went slow but we finally made it up and over Little Bald. Quite anti-climatic with no real view.

Red Heather Field below Big Bald

With the warmth of the day, I felt like I had a bit of heat exhaustion. As I was heading down the final stretch of trail this afternoon, I needed to stop and take electrolytes. I actually doubled them up as I could tell my body was not recovering. Big lesson learned. I always fill my small Nalgene bottle with some sort of electrolytes daily, but this morning I was short on water. Instead I filled it with cold brew coffee which was the exact opposite of what I needed. For being fairly smart most the time and a medic to boot, I sure can be a silly goose. Lesson learned.

Me and Blue with Big Bald Behind Us

The rest of the afternoon was a downhill slide as we were headed to a gap. Gaps are the lower parts of the trail that typically have flatter campsites and water. We arrived around 5pm, pitched our tents and went hunting for living water. It was a bit of a walk down a narrow path to a pipe. Someone commandeered this contraption to collect water that was trickling from an underground spring. Bless you whoever made this happen. I appreciate you, as many others do too!

Heading off the Balds

Today had its challenges, to say the least. The climbs were relentless, the heat of the day was stifling and my feet were not cooperating. This is typical for long distant hiking. I wouldn’t be authentic if I said everyday is rainbows and unicorns. There are certainly days that are but there are also times where I am exhausted and tired. Yet the most important part of all this is that when I’m weak and when I’m tired, I know that my mighty Lord is not! I had to put a lot of trust and faith in Jesus today. There were many prayers being prayed, many praises being heard and much strength that was supernatural. As we know, all things are possible with Jesus. And today was no exception.

“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:10‬ ‭NIV‬‬

One thought on “Day 34: May 18, 2022 Rice to Whistling Gap Elevation Profile +3838/-3940 14.9 Miles; Total 330.8 Miles

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