Day 21 A.Rufus Morgan Shelter NC on 2017 Appalachian Trail Thru-hike

Sunday 30 April

Total Distance: 13.8km

Mountains: Wesser Bald 4627 ft

Yep last night I had an ugly sleep, found myself off the mattress more often then on and you had to play a balancing game…and this is how I woke up:

Looking absolutely tragic!

Today was going to be a hard day, so I was disappointed that I didn’t get a really good sleep. The ascent isn’t too bad but the decent looked like hard yakka.

Here is a snapshot from AWOLS Appalachian Trail Guide Book of the elevation levels going from Big Branch Campsite to A. Rufus Morgan Shelter:

It is the first time I have been under 3000 ft for a while now. And the differences between being in the mountains compared to lower elevation levels was phenomenal.

Not only did the temperature increase by several degrees (had to unzip my sleeping bag in the middle of the night) but the scenery change was breath taking.

I climbed up the observation tower on Wesser Bald and when I am walking at ground level, I don’t really think about where I am in the big picture – until I climb up towers like these and see the world around me:

The fires last year raged through the Nantahala wilderness as well, the dark patches you see in the photo below are some of the burn zones.

Again it is amazing the work that all the Appalachian trail clubs put in and countless volunteer hours to get these tracks in order for the hiking season.

A good section of the trial coming off the Bald was really quite treacherous and you needed to focus 100% on spatial awareness and making each step count. This part is called the ‘jump off’ it was just a jagged rock on a shear cliff face you had to negotiate your way down.

Then of course there was the r & r ( roots and rocks) I spoke of the other day:

As you can see from the picture above the tree is keeping the path together even though it is leaning so far out it is starting to uproot.

This was the hardest day on my feet and it may be time to get a new pair of shoes soon as I can feel the soles wearing thin.

Tips/skills I’ve picked up so far:

  • How to position a leaf in a stream to create a waterspout to easily fill my water bottle
  • How to hang a bear bag PCT style and how to hang a bear bag between two trees
  • How to pee really fast due to no leaf or tree coverage
  • How to enter and exit a tent with stealth swiftness especially in rain
  • How to swing a 30pound pack onto my back in one fluid movement
  • When sleeping on the Neo Air Xlite sleep with your head on the skinny end and have your feet on the wide end. If you move your feet around like I do, it is far better and you tend to stay on the mattress all night
  • To always look in the hiker boxes, sometimes you can get good gear and or resupply your food for a few days all for free. Today I managed to get, a stack of water purification tablets like I use and 5 dice – excellent, yatzhee on! Oh and by the way…Sassy Elephant knew the game Pass the Pigs!
  • To fill your bottles with water before you get to the shelter or Campsite, it will save a lot of drama and heartache when you have to back track a mile on sore and tired legs.

Countdown to the Smokey Mountains and I can’t wait!


  1. I hang out for the blogs as well! You will probably enjoy that we’re using a pink highlighter to track your amazing journey on the map, here! Absolutely dips m’lid to your adventurous heart!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh my, your morning pic looks like you went a few rounds in the ring :/ Nice to see some more lush greenery in the photos with the coming down in elevation and some warmer weather for you. Even slight changes in scenery/vegetation must be really noticeable and somewhat of a lovely change for you. RE shoes, what shoes have you been wearing for the majority of your hiking to date?


    1. Yeah it’s awesome to see the changes in seasons, also makes you realise how long you’ve been out here. Regarding shoes I have been wearing Asics Gel Columbus 18. I needed these shoes to suit my feet and runners are lighter and easier to dry. Anything leather or waterproof will still get wet and take ages to dry. Water gets down through the top of the shoe.


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