3rd May

21.7 miles 

Bushcamp (288.8) to Bushcamp (310.5)

When I got out of my tent in the morning I realised just how lucky I was last night. The tree branch that fell left a large divot in the ground just 6 inches from where my head lay. Just a little closer and the best outcome would have been a destroyed tent, the worst outcome, I’d hate to think.

The trail followed a lot of rocky ridge lines for a lot of the day. On my left was a view of the flat farmlands of Tennessee, on my right the rugged mountains of the Cherokee National Forest in North Carolina. The weather was clear and the wind was non existent which gave me a chance to enjoy the views today.

I stopped for lunch at a quiet meadow. I checked the weather on the internet. Starting tomorrow morning at 5am there is a high wind warning. Winds of 35-50 MPH with gusts to 75MPH. The winds were predicted to come from the south east so I perused my map to look for a protected north west facing slope to camp on. I found a couple of likely sites, all I had to do was get there and hope there is flat ground to camp.

When in town the other day there was a lot of discussion about ‘the bubble’, the main pack of hikers. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m right in the middle of one of the bubbles right now. I should pass the most of them in a day or two. I’m passing 20-30 hikers per day, more when I leave town because almost all take 1-3 days off in each town. But there appears to be two bubbles, the hikers that left around 1st April, which I’m hiking through now and there is another bubble ahead comprising of the hikers that left 1st of March. Not sure when I’ll be hiking with the second bubble.

As the afternoon wore on I started the long descent to a minor highway that crosses the trail. There was a hostel very close to the road, Laurel Hostel, with the promise of a bed and protection from the weather. I chose to continue up the hill to the place that looked good on my map. I’m happy to say my map reading skills led me to a protected valley with a nice stream and a flat campsite. I was set up and dinner was devoured before 7pm. An early night. All I can do now is hope the wind is not as strong as predicted.

Filling my water bottle in a small trickle

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