Day 32 – James River 

I have never been known as one to jump out of bed in the morning and this morning was especially that way. When you are comfy, warm and content it is extremely difficult to get up no matter if you are in a tent or a mansion. After the sun lit up the camp I finally started making moves. Once on the trail I began the first of many climbs for the day. I headed towards the aviation tower atop Apple Orchard mountain while eating a breakfast of nuts, dried fruit, a snickers and a Tram bar from Kate’s Real Food. This usually holds me over for a couple hours. I can usually tell right away how my day is going to be. The first uphill I can gauge my energy level and today I was feeling very average. Not bad but not up to a 40 mile day I have been thinking about doing for a while. After Apple Orchard mountain the trail slowly descended over the next few miles to the giant James River. At the river I took the largest foot bridge of the trail across then crossed the highway and began the long arduous climb up Bluff mountain over 2000 feet above. I do not love these climbs to end the day, but all I can do is hike the trail that is in front of me. Luckily the sunset was beautiful and I was inspired by the surrounding peaks that I slowly ascended above. The Appalachian trail is different than many of the other trails I have hiked in the way that the views are spectacular but also clouded by trees. Most mountains and hikes I have done climb above the tree line for less obstructed views. Since the Appalachian mountains are one of the oldest ranges in the world they have been eroded much more than the Rockies, Sierras, and Cascades where I have spent much of my hiking career. At the top of Bluff mountain I snapped a couple photos then finished out the 30 mile day with about 1.5 miles down hill. I came to a camp spot and was surprised to see two backpackers there as well. Usually I have the whole wilderness to myself during the week. Not today though. We chatted for a while then I cooked up some homemade Mexican Minute Rice and readied my bed where I am ready to fall asleep much before hiker midnight (9pm).