Down and up, only six miles? Easy, a stop to enjoy the view at the Pinnacles, then on to a late lunch at the Skyland Restaurant with their renowned blackberry cobbler
( notice a theme about hiking in the SNP?)
Like the overwhelming majority of AT hikers this year, I take a lot of cues about the trail ahead from AWOL's AT Guide (http://www.theATguide.com) a stripchart encyclopedia of key locations, mileage, and elevation changes. What it does not include is information about the trail surface: smooth earth, rock stairs, or boulder rivers. It also does not incude switchbacks.
So I was running late when I reached a summit where the side trail to the Pinnacles turns off, and the blackberry cobbler sounded more attractive. It was a good choice, and an excellent cobbler.
However, enjoying that late lunch cost me an even further schedule delay. My best hope was to complete 15 miles before sunset. This would put me at Big Meadows Campground, 8 miles short of my planned stopping point 10 miles to go and for my resupply rendezous at Pocosin Cabin on the 9th. That would likely be 14 hours of hiking.
Nevertheless, on to Big Meadows! Except, there were three boulder rivers to cross, and exhaustion set in. I made it to Rock Spring Hut, 14 miles from Pocosin.
With a split across the toe box of one boot.
While I was thinking about how best to tape up the split, it came to me that (a) I was racing past interesting locations next to the AT like a thru hiker worrying about daily mileage, and (b) I was not having fun.
And decided to end this section of my AT hiking experience early, to,return another day with a more flexible hiking plan and a new set of boots.
Fortunately, cell phone connection was good at Rock Springs, so I was able to exchange messages with my resupply angel and change plans again to bring me off trail on the 9th.