11.2 miles today
20.7 miles total
We woke-up early to get on trail before sunrise, but have very relaxed expectations for the day. Maybe we stop after 3 miles, maybe we make it 6, or maybe we make it to our original planned campsite at Investors Gap making it at full 11.2 mile day.
The first mile and a half was normal and even flat in a few areas, which was a nice confidence booster to start the day. We even found some trail magic in the form of fresh water and sweet tea waiting for us right before our first climb of the day ?
The next 2 miles was our ascent to Pilot Mountain. 1800ft in 2 miles. The elevation map on All Trails looks almost straight up ? It was a beast. We took our time, no stress, no rush. We would walk 100 steps then stop for 20 sec, all the way to the top. The final stretch was the toughest, when slowed to 50 steps at a time, but we kept moving forward.
When we finally reached the top, Grant crumbled to the ground and I think actually blacked-out for a few seconds ? I let him catch his breath and started preparing food for him because I was pretty sure he was low on calories. We fed him everything we could and slowly he started to feel normal again as we sat on the the mountain top basking in our accomplishment.
PHEW! First climb complete!
The second climb over the Blue Ridge Parkway and on to Black Balsam Knob was challenging and maybe even more challenging in a few spots with 100% grade, but we had a pretty good system at this point. We basically realized we just need to go slow and keep Grant fed lol.
Getting to Black Balsam Knob felt amazing. We finally exited the green tunnel and had 360 views for the rest of the day. We had 1 more small climb up Tennent Mountain before a relatively easy last mile into camp at Investors Gap.
WE DID IT!
Not only did we complete several difficult climbs after we contemplated leaving the trail last night, but we also got back on our original milage plan ?
So proud of us today!!!