We showered again on those awesome showers and had hot chocolate before hitting the trail. I led the group for awhile down to Laurel falls where we stopped for pictures and then lost the trial temporarily, climbing up a steep, treacherous non-trail before turning around. Strangely, that's what seems to have fixed my ankle!
Then we started climbing. And climbing. And climbing. Real steep. Real long. Climb climb climb. Then climb back down. I'm starting to get to the point where I need to carry easily accessible snacks so I can eat in between my 6 meals a day because I'm getting bonked, especially when climbing up and down. At the bottom of the climb were 5-6 14" steps made of railroad ties in the hill. I slipped on the top step and landed sitting on the bottom step - BANG- me and the backpack weight. Ouch.
The trail was reputed on the lower elevation because of flooding, and we actually did walk through neighborhoods for a while. We decided to stop for lunch and water at Watauga Lake Shelter, which was really nice. I started acting a bit saucy, saying I had thought of the perfect birthday presents for the guys whose birthdays recently passed (next town we stay at that has movies...Iron Man 3 tix. How awesome is that?) But, in typical Heather style, when attempting to dangle the idea of "perfect b-day present" in their noses, I tripped over a rock and almost went sprawling. So much for cool and suave.
After lunch we crossed a dam and then continued to climb straight uphill for a few hours. Good times.