We returned to beige breakfast for the last morning. Afterwards, we packed up and tried to put more of our things in Tyler's bag, to Emily's chagrin. Whenever Tyler wasn't paying attention, Emily tried to steal weight back. Until her ankle proves better, Emily agreed, eventually, that she'd follow the new rules.
We met up with Hand Solo and Nacho Mom and made it to the trail around 11. Nacho Mom decided she would day hike before making the trip back to Florida, but in the opposite direction from us.
We hiked with Hand Solo for a while, but we fell a bit behind because Emily's ankle was feeling sore. However, the limp and slowness quickly vanished. We heard that Andrew and Bambi would be shooting for 8 miles from Sam's Gap which, to catch up, it would be 16 miles for us. It soon seemed like it would be possible, or Emily was acting too tough for her own good. There were a lot of uphills and since downhills hurt Emily's ankle more, it might be the perfect, but sweaty, set of miles to try the trail again.
At around mile 10, we ran into Rowdy and Steve. Since the trail is a strange place, it must be said that Rowdy is a human and Steve is a dog. Rowdy created a little community at the water source since she had a liter and a half wine that she needed help drinking to reduce pack weight. Steve was a stray thay had wandered up to Rowdy just a few months before. A fair number of dogs get adopted on the trail, either in towns or on the trail itself.
Up a serious hill, we met up with Disciple who we'd been leapfrogging with most of the day. We thought he was muttering to himself, but he was taking a video for his vlog (notbysight on youtube). The phrase is both a quote from the bible (he is a southern Baptist pastor, he doesnt like to share the fact too quickly as to avoid stereotyping and stigma) and also refers to the fact that he's hiking with a degenerative eye disorder. So he's worried that someday down the road he might have no vision at all (not that it seems that blindness would have stopped him). We kept up with a speedy Disciple and Hand Solo. Disciple asked us a lot of questions about our lives, and ended up exchanging contact information with Emily since he's thinking notbysight could become it's own entity someday, to help show people that everything's possible. He said the amount of traveling he'd done lately (including the AT) would frankly have never been possible without his diminishing vision. Disciple and his wife, Halo, had even been doing some trail angeling on Disciple's zero days (even though Halo had to drive down from Illinois. Halo and his children surprised Disciple in Hot Springs and the reunion was so touching, apparently the whole outfitter welled up.
The time went by quickly sharing stories with Disciple and Hand Solo despite the serious uphills. The uphills ended on Big Bald which we summited near sunset. It was damn magical. Not to mention that we were 14.5 miles and Emily's ankle was causing little problem.
We rolled into Big Bald Shelter at around 8 and did indeed find Bambi and Andrew (who is indeed going by Spike). We celebrated reuniting with family, ate a quick dinner, set up our tent, and fell nearly immediately to sleep.