Day 21 – Groundhog creek shelter to a stealth camp site about 7 miles from Hot Springs

Today was another big day. Thanks to some easy terrain and some perfect weather, I covered nearly 19 miles in 10 and a half hours. I’m setup to be able to roll into Hot Springs tomorrow early afternoon and get a shower, do some laundry, eat and resupply (always do it in that order lest you over buy 😝) before heading back in to the woods with a friend who’s meeting me for a week of hiking.

After the long day and late entry into camp last night, I will admit I pulled the quilt over my eyes at first light and pushed to ear plugs a bit deeper at first birdsong this morning. I eventually made myself get up around 7:30, changed into hiking clothes (fresh dock day!) packed up, got water, retrieved my food bag from the bear box (check out the pic below…looks like bear tracks to me!) and went back to the shelter to use the table to make breakfast. I got to meet a few of the other THs that were already in bed when in rolled in the night before and left camp around 8:30.

First thing was a climb and I quickly changed out of my fleece and beanie. It always seems so cold until you start to climb. 😊. It was supposed to be a seven mile trek before the next water so I appreciated that there was a slight breeze.

The terrain was super easy today. Specifically the path itself. It was mostly just a dirt track, with very few rocks or roots. You can really lay down some miles when you don’t have to think about every step. As a result, I made it to Max Patch ahead of schedule so took some time for a longer lunch and some gear repair. I met a family of 7 (if you include the dog…which of course you do) who is hiking the AT together. If I had to guess kids are between 9 and 14. They were all doing great – love to see it!

I left the peak around 12:30 and started on the easiest ~5 miles of the AT so far. It was mostly flat and a simple dirt path. It was the longest time I’ve been able to just walk and be completely focused on the trees, flowers, hills and water.

I made it to Lemon Gap by about 3 and decided to take a break for some water. Then I decided to air out my feet a little and dry my socks. I had a good stump to sit on so why not? As I sat there I noticed a cutie someone had dropped in the parking area. Who can turn down found trail magic? Not this guy. It was delicious.

I started up the first of the two last big climbs of the day about 3:15. On the first one, me and two other THs played a bit of leapfrog. Just like yesterday there was a lot of stopping for water, rest and snacks. I crested Bluff mountain around 5:30 and then started the 2+ mile descent to camp. Just like last night I had to go further than planned (only 0.4 miles further tonight though). Not due to lack of water however – the site was right on a creek – but rather lack of trees to hang my hammock from.

I rolled into camp around 7 and met the one other TH camping here (couldn’t really fit many more TBH). Setup my hammock, relaxed a little, hung my bear bag line, made dinner and ate, hung my food bag, journaled and packed up everything for the night.






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