Food Glorious Food

Thursday, June 30
Big Meadows Lodge (923.8)

I am pretty determined to do this 20 mile day, and wake with the birds at 5:15. Did not sleep well, but am on trail at 6:30, the first one out.

As first one on trail, I get cobweb clearing duty. Overnight all the self-respecting alpha spiders have laid one or two strands across the trail, each deciding how high or low to set them. This tires them out, so they go to bed with expectation they'll do another strand or two later.

As first out, I have to break every single one. I have a wide brimmed hat which I keep dipped down so the strands break on the brim but these then settle on both of my cheeks. Or I can see the strands if the sun exposes them so I start flailing my poles hoping to cut them before they hit the brim and settle on my cheeks. Bears probably watch this with bemusement.

There are a couple of rises today, but I take these reasonably well and am running about a mile ahead of schedule at 11:30. The goal is to get to the Big Meadows Wayside (short order restaurant) by 4:30.

Farther north we go, the more roads to cross. They range from gravely service roads to four lane state highways.

Probably has offered weather protection for countless hikers and critters.

There's a National Park Service campsite here, and a camp store, so I stop to see if the store is close enough to get good snacks without walking too far. Wander up to a couple, and they show me about where the store is, but it's a bit far so I say I'll just hike on. Bob offers to drive me up there, and I hem and haw (while screaming "Yes!" In my head), accept the ride while dropping my bag.

Buy various snacks and walk back to their campsite. Spend  time talking, while they offer some scrambled eggs, and a hard boiled egg and banana for later. I thank them for their hospitality and resume around noon. I regret not getting a picture of them.

You know at this point an AT hiker burns 4-6,000 calories a day. So a big day, as Gabe puts it, is a 20 Snickers (5,000 calorie) day. Because I am trying to keep moving and not stop to eat lunch, I'm just gobbling about every 20 minutes cashews, quarter bites of a large Snickers bar, beef jerky, Jolly Ranchers candy, and the like. Creating a slow counter balance to calorie loss. Add to this regular water intakes, which for today amounts to about four liters on the trail prefaced by a liter before starting hiking.

Get to Wayside at 3:15, wave or nod to various hikers I'm getting to know, and wonder where Gabe is. Head in to get my black raspberry milkshake, a famous item, but a local tells me to skip that and go for the black raspberry ice cream. I do, settling on two scoops, and my dollar tip yields the Everest of two scoops - a full six inches above the cup

Gabe arrives a half hour later. We get a light meal (by hiker standards), then head up to the Lodge in the hopes they have had a cancellation since yesterday when the were full. They haven't, but somehow Gabe sweet talks us into a "room that shouldn't be offered." It's fine for our purposes and we do the usual routine of a hot shower followed by dinner followed by updating our respective blogs.

180 degree vista from Big Meadows Lodge's wrap around porch.

Only bear I've seen so far.


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