The Only Way Out of the NOC is Up!

Today we covered 10 miles and climbed over 3,000 feet of elevation. After hiking into the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) yesterday & indulging in dinner and breakfast cooked by someone other than ourselves it was time to face the climb.
We had resupply boxes to pick up at the NOC, which was incredibly convenient because the AT passes right through the complex by bridge. We used our afternoon to do a load of laundry, reorganize our packs, and rest our feet/paws in the river while watching kayakers pass. We opted against the $2 shower that was available to us (see photo of Alexis below for proof that was a bad idea). Dinner was the famous “Hiker Burger” which totaled one pound of meat plus all the toppings. We must be eating too well on the trail cause the two of us split one and could barely finish the entire thing.
They serve up that much protein for a reason we soon found out. We started our ascent in the heat of midday – temps reaching the 80’s combined with trees that haven’t even begun to bud their summer canopy was a brutal combination. Additionally, a controlled burn was happening in the area, filling all our senses with smoke. Lewis and Jack came back to life at every water source we reached. Brent carried their packs from time to time, already sweating and shirtless himself (and he says I’m the softie when it comes to them!) This we know is only the beginning of hot and sticky days to come, although we can rest assured there will be more leaf coverage down the trail to provide some relief.
Tonight we made it to our goal for the day and were welcomed by some fellow hikers already settling in for the night. Some familiar faces we seem to have been playing leap frog with on the trail, and some new faces yet. The boys were welcomed by all, and they enjoyed getting their good share of attention around the fire before bed. We’re truly sleeping under the stars- a full clear sky of them – without our tent’s rain cover tonight. Unfortunately, the forecast for our final stretch before we reach Great Smokies National Park looks wet and stormy. Here’s to hoping it holds off til later tomorrow!