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[at-l] Trip report Roan Mt. Trip, Part 1

Posted with permission from Jan..enjoy!

>Hi All,
>Jan in NC here. Here is a shakedown of last wekk's hike. Sure did love
>laurel Creek campground at the end of the trail - charming, and very
>clean hostel.
>Week on the AT - Over Roan Mt. and Beyond
>Oh yes, gorgeous AT scenery, Little Rock High Knob, Roan Mt., the
>Humps, Laurel Creek gorge and the Falls  - the views, the vegetation
>(flame azaleas AND rhododendron!), those compelling rocks, the brisk
>clean air.  No unsavory encounters with locals. But after 19E, I
>wanted to kill somebody!
>Is it me, or are the hills getting higher? Gasp, wheeze, groan. Yet my
>15-year stepson Paul found his hiking stride this trip, his first. "I
>can understand how people get addicted to hiking," he said. "I felt
>invincible the last two hours," - spoken on the very day, our
>second-to-last, I was doubting my own strength! He was getting
>stronger by the hour, and I was low E!
>I admit, I took a little extra food along with me on this trek from
>Iron Mt. Gap, over Roan Mt. and the gorgeous "Humps". Maybe my pack
>weight was a little over 43 pounds, but that was with water and
>  But Paul took even more - his pack weighed over 50 pounds!
>Admittedly, he did carry alot of food - TWO jars of Jif Peanut Butter
>Chocolate Silk? TWO tin cups?
>I tried to advise him without stepping on his independent teen-aged
>toes. I'd pass along some info, then let him make his own decisions,
>figuring Roan Mt. would be the better teacher in the long run. Who is
>going to argue with a mountain? Turns out it was ME!
>Not sure why this last trek was such a fanny-kicker for me. This is
>the tale of a Hiker Humbled!
>See, on my second AT trek this spring, I did a 4.5 mile stretch in an
>hour and a half, so I was feeling pretty strutty when I set out on
>this one - only to be humbled by the grind from 19E to Moreland
>shelter. My god, I was bellycrawling along at scarcely over a mile an
>hour! I had figured we'd take the haul up Roan Mountain slow, but
>hadn't counted on the long day to Moreland Shelter at the end.
>Very humbling for me, not to mention painful on the feet . Now I know
>what bunions are - they hurt and swelled, then blistered to beat the
>band. Blisters on the balls of my big toes. Blisters on the sides of
>my feet where I was trying to "set an edge" on slick, eroded trail.
>Oh, and did I mention plantar fascitis?
>Alright, enough whining for the moment (more later).
>For balance, a  kudos: I am SO grateful to the Band-Aid/Compeed people
>I could handwash their ALL their nasty hiking socks.  Every pair.
>I found a way to pre-tape my funny fourth toes so they would only not
>blister but that they actually failed to cause intense misery of the
>chain-saw-wielding kind (Inside the heart of every lunatic serial
>killer beats of gentle heart of the cruelly foot-abused...). This is a
>blessing, because I figured those chronically blistering toes might
>keep me off a 2003 AT thru-hike. Now, simple - I'll just wrap my
>ENTIRE footbed in Compeed before I set out, instead of after the fact.
>Everyone buy stock.
>And despite the moaning, I do think my new Superfeet insoles helped a
>bad situation from getting worse. It was just alot of hard rises and
>drops (and rises and drops, and rises...) Now I just need to punch out
>a gap for my bunions in the toe box of my Montrails...
>I tend to be grateful to trail crews for all the hard volunteer work
>they do, but found myself having a few private "words" with the trail
>"designer" past 19E, as in  'My god, man, haven't you ever heard of
>SWITCHBACKS? What's with all this straight up-and-straight down shh -
>er, stuff? And how about piping the water source now and then? HARD TO
>Though plentiful, water was hard to come by, if that makes any sense.
>Hard to gather from low sources, filled with trash. Some springs must
>have become overgrown with brambles, because we searched where the
>guidebook indicated, and failed to find the source. The whole area
>from 19E to Moreland seemed trashy and dirty - we even saw used toilet
>paper near some water sources - no thanks!
>And since I'm whining, how about those knees? Good lord, hasn't
>someone invented a bionic version yet?  I managed to wrench the left
>one on the second day, just a simple bad step. For a moment I thought
>my hike was over - it was a stomach-turner. But I shook it out, and
>the worst of the pain passed, though it complained the rest of the
>journey on every descent.
>Where there's a will, there's a way, however. Interesting how the
>no-favors-asked-none-granted implacability of the backcountry forces
>one to adapt. I developed a funky, walking-backward downhill technique
>as a way to ease the knee (patent pending).
>  Not recommended as way to ensure a healthy longevity, nonetheless it
>IS somewhat faster than dithering at the top of a long slide moaning
>in pain and nausea.
>In truth, I became rather adept at walking backward, and eventually
>could take long, confident steps, making pretty good time over my
>normal small, weight-checking, descending step.
>  I found myself constantly checking over my left shoulder though -
>guess I'm pretty one-sided. Somehow, I was much clumsier and inclined
>to tip oper when looking over the right shoulder.
>  Not only did the funky technique ease the knee(s) but the forward
>toe-jam and the bunions felt the cool breeze of relief, and the tired
>arches got a good stretch. I got pretty good at whipping around
>efficiently when a frontal approach looked necessary.
>What I learned: Next time, I will do serious knee and
>quad-strengthening exercises, since the mountains have pointed out my
>weakness in those areas.
>Also, I usually do lunges before hiking to build up the ascent/driving
>muscles of the rump. I didn't this time, figuring the  carryover from
>my other two spring hikes would suffice.  I'm not so sure it did,
>though as I said, it could be this was just a harder stretch than the
>rest of the Trail I've experienced. Still, a little extra muscle mass
>in the gluts would have been welcome.
>More on next post
>Jan in NC
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