Day 61 – 64 Roan Mountain TN to Hampton TN on 2017 Appalachian Trail Thru-hike

Saturday 9 June, Tuesday 12 June

Total Distance:  418.4 miles

Mountains: none


My foot has been so sore over the last couple of days that taking pictures and enjoying what is going on around me has alluded me. I am grateful that in some level the trail has some really good smooth parts to it, which has been of tremendous relief.

Therefore this post will centre on the gear adjustments I made which will make a real difference to my walking comfort.


With my foot playing up, having as little as possible in your pack is becoming even more important. The benefits of this were recognised while slackpacking.

Walking into Hampton this consumed my every thought. With every agonising step I clearly saw all the gear I will no longer need and am no longer willing to carry.

I also know that I am unwilling to carry on like this ‘toughing it out’ – I am no Meninga! Therefore three decision were arrived at during this time:

  1. I am not get off the trail
  2. I will see a doctor
  3. My pack is getting stripped back

Not getting off the trail: Should my foot not be up to the task of walking the entire distance in the required amount of time, I am willing to ‘Yellow blaze’: jump ahead via a shuttle at certain points so I get to hike in every state the trail passes through.

Seeing the doctor: I was so very lucky; word had spread along the trail re my foot as hikers were quite concerned. Therefore the owners of the Black Bear Resort where I had planned to stay, were looking out for me. It just so happened that when I walked in, Mary-lee needed to go into Hampton so she took me to their doctor/medical centre within the hour.

I was bracing myself for the unknown cost, however apparently if you are a cash paying customer it is substantially cheaper… in the end it was about the same as I would pay in Aussie.

Anyway, the doctor asked me if I was going to stop walking, I said no, then he ascertained I  would be willing to take a couple of days off. He felt my foot wasn’t broken and not to worry having an X-ray as they don’t always show stress fractures. Instead he gave me some drugs, which should help me walk and help the issue. Told me he was prescribing enough so if it flares up again I can just take some more. Cool!

I can not recommend Black Bear Resort enough. I wasn’t the only patient. Another guy had something going on and the owners took him to another bigger town. They genuinely care and are nice people.

Stripping back the pack


My summer gear and list – the in’s and out’s as I aim to cull as much as possible from my pack and person, hard calls were made in part to lighten the load on my foot.

My pack on average before the cull, weighed 35 pounds/16 kgs with food and water. My pack now weighs in including food and water (approx, scales are a bit out) 25 pounds/11 kgs.

In’s:

Bathroom

  • Toilet paper
  • Trowel
  • Sml hand sanitizer
  • Sml toothbrush
  • Travel toothpaste
  • Medication
  • Wet wipes
  • First aid – drastically reduced to ace bandage a few plasters and lightweight tweezers

Sacks

  • 4 x sml stuff sacks
  • 1 x med stuff sack
  • 2 x lightweight dry bags
  • 1 x compression dry bag
  • 13 Ltr Dry bag/bear bag

Clothing carried

  • Patagonia rain coat for rain, just in case it is cool and when washing (although now that it is quite warm I will probably only use the rain coat for washing as you become soaked from sweat making no difference then just hiking in the rain)
  • Lightweight polyester men’s shorts (for town or when washing)
  • T-shirt (for town and sleeping)
  • Thermal pants (for sleeping, not willing to buy anything else at the moment)
  • 1 x lightweight underwear
  • 1 x injinji socks
  • 1 x bed socks
  • Bandana scarf
  • Poncho- however I had bounced this to Damascus and didn’t notice it, but it hasn’t been raining either, so I thought I would carry it till Marion where my other boxes will be waiting and decide then if I was going to carry it or not – it will be a choice of the rain jacket or the poncho.

Clothing worn

  • 1 x lightweight underwear
  • 1 x injinji socks
  • Hat
  • Tights
  • Lightweight shirt
  • Bra

Kitchen

  • Titanium pot
  • Sml gas canister (large too heavy and not necessary)
  • Long titanium spoon
  • Small lighter
  • Sml piece of sponge

Water

  • Large sawyer filter
  • Compressible cup (often needed to scoop up water when flow isn’t good or is hard to get to)
  • 3 x 1 ltr Platypus bottles (1 is for use when filtering water the other two I drink out of)

Sleeping system

  • Thermarest neo air
  • Zpacks sleeping bag
  • Sea to summit ultralight pillow

Other

  • Zpacks tent
  • 10 x assorted lightweight tent pegs (some have broken and been replaced with whatever’s on hand)
  • Headlamp
  • Bear bag rope
  • Head Flynet
  • Portable charger, wall plug etc
  • Food; When it comes to food, I carry no more than a maximum of five days, however I average three or four and it must be lightweight! If I take longer and run out just means I need to hike faster on the day I’m entering a resupply point. I also only carry the exact number of meals I require e.g. Leaving Monday and hiking, hiking three full days, getting into town Friday means I will be carrying:
  • 4 x breakfasts
  • 5 x snacks
  • 4 x lunches and
  • 4 x dinners

This has been a major way to cut down on weight. Once you run out once or twice (which I have if I’ve mucked around and taken longer) you learn to haul ass. I also only carry about a litre of water at any one time – depends on water sources of course – cause a litre of water = a kilo of weight.

Getting rid of the winter gear and superfluous clothing and bits has paid dividends, which leads us to the out’s:

Out’s

Bathroom

  • Hand soap – with water often quite a distance from camp I got tired of needing enough to wash my hands with as well
  • Medication – as I had to bring spare asthma medication which is heavy, I have bounced most of it forward. I have noticed that I very rarely need to use it and if I lost it all today I don’t think it would impact at all. I also bounce forward vitamins etc and only carry enough till I get my box. This is no extra cost since I am already bouncing my winter gear.
  • First aid – drastically reduced to ace bandage a few plasters and lightweight tweezers
  • Towel I put it in the box to bounce, I never use it and it still weighs. If I need to wipe down the tent I use my scarf. Every place you shower gives you a towel. If I’m not in town I’m not bathing

Clothing

All the clothing below I have found to be either unsuitable for me, too heavy, superfluous or not required right now.

  • Thermal long sleeve top
  • Hiking pants
  • 2 x Lightweight spare shirts
  • Gloves
  • Puffy jacket
  • Sleeping bag booties
  • Sleeping bag hoodie
  • Skirt
  • Gaiters
  • Camp shoes
  • Head sock
  • Neck cover (that can be attached to my hat)

Sleeping system

  • Sleeping bag liner

 Whew, I now have two boxes being bounced forward which isn’t ideal so will see what I can do in Damascus…I have forgotten some of the contents waiting for me in Damascus 👏🏽👏🏽 be like opening a present. 😊

3 comments

  1. Now that’s what I call an update! Glad u went to see a doctor and tops it was same price as OZ. Must be frustrating not knowing exactly what is wrong with your foot. E.g. Is it something that will come good with enough rest (how much is enough), or something that will keep flaring as you’ve a lot of miles to go. Hope it isn’t a stress fracture. Nice work with the pack cull. 11kgs is great, was surprised u had 16 to start. I walked with 22kgs doing the Overland and swore I would never walk with more than 12kg again! So lugging 16kg so far has been a massive effort 🙂
    Hope your foot settles soon. You seem to be making smart choices about your options. I’m amazed at how coordinated all the help, checkpoints and communication is along the AT…nothing like any Ozzie trail!

    Liked by 1 person

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