Posted by: pjbarr | April 24, 2010

Sleep Walking

Start: Irwin, TN; Uncle Johnny’s Hostel at Nolichucky River
Finish: Curley Maple Gap Shelter
Distance: 4.2 mi.
Trip Distance: 344.1 mi.
Side Trips: none
Side Trip Miles: 0.0 mi.
State: TN
Highlights: Southern Smothered Breakfast Platter, Seeing Friends

“A person needs at intervals to separate himself from family and companions and go to new places. He must go without his familiars, in order to be open to influences, to change.”
— Katherine Butler Hathaway

I stayed awake last night working on the computer. I made great progress in my work on my journal website and in catching up on coorespondence. This was a change from the typical frustration that has resulted from brief access to technology with too much to do with too little time to do it. I actually went to bed satisfied with my accomplishments rather than irritated at my short comings.

The consequence of this was that I only got about 3 or 4 hours of sleep last night. This was certainly a trade off, though I do feel I wished I would have taken longer advantage of a soft bed in which to sleep. But I didn’t think the sleep deprivation would have affected my hike today as much as it did.
My parents and I returned from Johnson City to Irwin and they treated me to my favorite breakfast, the Southern Smothered Breakfast Platter at Huddle House.

This dish involves taking most common breakfast food components and throwing them into a tall heap. This includes biscuits and gravy, bacon, sausage, hash browns, eggs, and cheese. I cut and mix it up into a massive, messy conglomerate of breakfast bliss. It takes a champion appetite to finish it, but I needed to use discretion seeing how I would have to deal with the digestive repercussions of over eating while out in the woods, so I stopped just short of finishing it off.

I bid farewell to my folks who dropped me off at Uncle Johnny’s. At the hostel, I had a prearranged meeting with Steve Schoof, a writer for Blue Ridge Country Magazine that was doing an article about the CMC’s South Bound 6,000 challenge program. Steve had completed SB6k last year and we had corresponded sporadically since then. I was excited to meet him and discuss a program that I chair for the club as well as remain so passionate about. Our interview was fun and relaxed and I am appreciative he drove from Asheville to Erwin just to speak with me.

After the interview, I saw two people I like dearly but hadn’t seen in a long time: Chef and So Far. It was great seeing them again. Like at Hot Springs, Chef claims to be headed out of town tomorrow, so hopefully he will catch me soon especially with my short day today. But he ended up staying a day in Hot Springs last week which explained why he had not caught me previously. So Far, on the other hand, plans to take several days in Erwin and it may be sometime again before I see him, though I suspect I will again soon at some point.

I really dragged my feet getting back on the trail today. It is hard to leave a town after pleasant encounters with friends and family, especially when today’s forecast called for severe thunderstorms. When I did get back on the trail just before noon, I was going at especially lackadaisical pace and hiking without drive. It was the combination of being sleepy and the reluctance to leave town. I experienced this when I left the NOC after crossing the Nantahala River. Today I crossed the Nolichucky before reentering the forest.

The trail was initially easy in grade and terrain so I was frustrated with my slow pace and missing motivation. I was just ambling along. Somehow I managed to catch Brooklyn and Stretcher, friends I had gotten to know over the past week since Hot Springs. After brief conversation, we all hiked together in silence, even when the steep, inevitable climb finally reared its head. I think they had a similar feeling to mine today as our pace wasn’t fast and our conversation limited. It was all reflected in us when we decided to stop at the first shelter at Conley Maple Gap at just 2 pm. We simply didn’t feel like hiking today.

I caught up on my sleep – a nearly 4 hour nap this afternoon, even without an inflated sleeping pad or comfort of a sleeping bag. I just plain slept. Now dark, the rain that the forecast promised is finally falling though without the severe storms that were suppose to develop. We have finally reached the point in spring and summer where it will be 40% chance of storms from here on out every day, so no need in taking stock in the weather forecast.

Tomorrow I hope to make 20 miles to Greasy Creek Gap, regardless of weather. I look forward to the return of my motivation and I am excited to get back on the trail in the morning.


  1. Peter, I have followed you EVERY day (really every day) since your journey started! I’m super excited! Looks like you will summit on Saturday unless you need to wait on someone (Allison-family-friends) to join you. Please, Please post frequent updates on summit day-many of us are watching, waiting and cheering!!
    Karl from-Goshen Prong overniter-Caldwell Fork,Boogerman Trail day hike-and an attempt to meet at Hemphill Bald (your 900 celebration) Go Peter Go!

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