Mile 341.5 Erwin, TN – Pheidippedes






I’m taking a nero day today of only 6 miles having hiked from “No Business Knob” shelter to Uncle Johnny’s hostel in Erwin, TN. I’m actually taking a zero day tomorrow as well. This should be nice for recovery.

I ended up leaving Elmer’s Sunnybank Inn in Hot Springs, NC because my brother Mike and his girlfriend Corrine along with Henry came and picked me up and brought me to Sylva, NC for the night. This is where Corrine grew up and we all stayed at her parents house. Sylva is a beautiful mountain town and we did lots of eating and visiting shops. The next day Mike and Corrine stayed at Tanyard Gap six miles outside of Hot Springs to make trail magic of chicken, steaks, sausage, and plenty other food for passing thru-hikers while I hike with Henry to the gap. My shoelaces were frayed so I bought some new ones at the outfitter. Then those turned out to not fit through the grommets on the shoes. Eventually I had the outfitter just give me some yellow bear-bag cord and I used that as shoelaces.

My miles in the last stretch were 10, 24 (my first 20+), 26 (my first marathon), and 6. The first day was just a half day of hiking. I decided for the next two just to hike from sun-up to sun-down as there isn’t much to do in camp. On the 24 mile day I met Garden Girl and Shaman, two girls who worked in organic farming prior to the hike. I had already 9 miles in when I met them and 24 wasn’t in the plan, but we took it easy pace and found a campsite just before dark. Shaman played music during the hike from here iphone – many hours of the Beatles were a nice mental break to the quiet of hiking.

I left Garden Girl and Shaman the next morning because I hike at a faster pace. I planned on doing another 20 miles or so. It turned out to be the roughest day yet. There was over 4500 vertical feet of climbing and a summit of the 5500 ft tall Big Bald mountain. Again, I made the mistake of chasing someone I met; Jericho from Louisiana. Around 20 miles I was exhausted and hungry so I cooked dinner at a stream crossing to rest and get in a few extra miles afterwards. This was the start of something bad. The fuel for the stove ran out during cooking the noodles and I ate them less than fully cooked. I also had a bunch of peanut butter and a Progenex protein shake from the stash leftover from my Crossfit days. I hiked slowly on looking for a campsite, but to no avail. The next 6 miles didn’t have even one flat spot for a tent. Nearing dark I pushed the extra miles all the way to No Business Shelter for 26 miles total and biggest day yet. I set up my tent and tried to go to sleep. The toll of 2 big days of hiking suddenly caught up with me. I, poorly, thought taking 2 shots of whiskey would help numb some of the pain and allow me to fall asleep. About five minutes later I had to get out of the tent. I stood there woozy and almost fainted. I said audibly “I don’t fell good” hoping another camping would help out and was a bit afraid. The exercise had pushed me too far. The eating was too much. I hiked on a full stomach and then had whiskey. Bad, bad, bad, bad. I fell to me hands and knees and threw-up twice in the woods. Running low on food, and behind in calories, I considered at least a blessing that I didn’t vomit up all my dinner but just a small amount. Thus, these mistakes have led to the recovery here in Erwin, TN. 26 miles killed Pheidiippedes when he ran from Marthons; I lucked out only having stomach sickness. There are rumors of Norovirus on the trail, but I’m pretty sure I don’t have that.

I have plenty more to say. As I’m staying here for a bit I’ll do my best to get it all online.


About douglasdouma

I am a husband to beautiful wife, an ordained minister in the Reformed Presbyterian Church - Hanover Presbytery, and founder of Sola - Appalachian Christian Retreat ( In addition to blogging at this site I am the author of The Presbyterian Philosopher - The Authorized Biography of Gordon H. Clark (Wipf&Stock, 2017) and compiling editor of Clark and His Correspondents: Selected Letters of Gordon H. Clark (Trinity Foundation, 2017). I have a bachelor degree in mechanical engineering (University of Michigan), a master's in business administration (Wake Forest University) and a master of divinity (Sangre de Cristo Seminary). I'm an avid hiker, having completed a northbound thru-hike of the Appalachian trail in 2013 and the first 500 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail in 2016.
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4 Responses to Mile 341.5 Erwin, TN – Pheidippedes

  1. Seamus Browne says:

    Stay safe buddy and get some rest. Remember from Crossfit, this is not a sprint, pace yourself.

  2. Ron Kruis says:

    Great to read your blog Doug. Hang in there. Sounds like you are having a great adventure. You will enjoy the hiking out here after what you have accomplished.

  3. Nate says:

    You’d think you’d get some good hooch in that part of the country…. ; )

  4. Carol says:

    Coming down into Erwin is like seeing the promised land but you’re not there yet….
    You’re there now… Enjoy the promise.

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