3/25/15 The NOC

3/25/15     Sassafras Shelter   8 miles

We woke up this morning to a lucky “no rain day” as we were originally expecting. We hiked a mile to the Nantahala Center (NOC), which was super cool. The AT goes directly over the Nantahala River via bridge. It was really cool to see this place in person. Darwin and I had seen this area numerous times while researching the trail. There is a huge white water rafting community here. We saw lots of families seemly on vacation leaving me with a twinge of homesickness. Just a twinge mind you!

I got a pair of sock liners to help prevent future blisters and excitedly printed out our permits for the Smoky Mountains, which are looming in our future.

Outside the outfitters we bumped into Seven who is another trail celebrity we had watched a ton of videos from before we started our hike. We talked with him for a few minutes and of course…. he invited us to a hiker party. In the short time we spent with him he seemed true to the hiker shown in his videos. It’s so cool to meet people like this and to see places we had only seen in videos before. THEY DO EXIST!

We ate at the River Water Restaurant where we again partook of beef; it did not disappoint. Ahhhhh the life of a meat eater…

Fueled up on town food, we headed out for 3,000 foot climb which took us over three hours. It was awesome to see the NOC in person then to watch it fade away to the size of an ant. It got pretty hot today and for a moment I felt like Cheryl Strayed in the Mojave Desert, hot and needing water. Mid climb we came across a small waterfall. What luck! It was nothing big but we were able to splash our faces with the cold water and fill up our bottles. After filtering, the water tasted amazing as any would after hiking a few miles on empty.

We saw a few snakes on our climb today and Cray-Nip (still with us since Standing Indian Shelter) caught two of them. I got a great picture of him holding one of the little guys. Seeing the snakes gave me thoughts of spring and permanent warmer weather.

We originally planned on doing fifteen miles today but the climb zapped our energy and with prediction of rain, we stopped short at eight miles. I felt more confident today keeping up with our “train” better than yesterday. Feeling sore but feeling good!

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