Now that I am finally here in the mountains of northeast Tennessee, I’ve been dying to get out on the trail. Not just a trail, the trail, the Appalachian Trail. So today I drove up to Beauty Spot and hiked the AT up to the summit of Unaka Mountain and back.
The last time I was here was on my thru-hike back in 2009. I was 13 years younger then, about 25 pounds lighter, and I had hiked 350 miles from Springer Mountain to get here. All that is my long-winded way to say, holy hell, these hills are getting steeper! To top it off, last week I kicked a piece of furniture in my bare feet and smashed one of my toes really well. In fact, I’m pretty sure I broke it. This is the first time since that I’ve walked more than a mile or so, and tonight it’s really throbbing, but I don’t care, it was worth it.
It was lovely being out on the trail. To my surprise, I saw very few other people. I met one woman coming down Unaka Mtn while I was going up, and not another soul until the last mile of so hiking back to Beauty Spot, when I passed a pretty steady stream of day hikers and weekend backpackers, all heading the other way.