Today was a good day. We slept in a little and it was kinda cold when we woke up. I guess that’s why this is the 6’12” I saw when I got out of the hammock…
Everyone in camp seemed to be in a hurry this morning. I stuck around for a little while and just took it easy. We were planning 12 miles for the day so I figured I’d make sure I got a good breakfast, and then, since the sun was finally back out, I’d head back down the trail to the GA/NC border to get a better picture.
After that, I finally took off. Within the first 1/4 mile, the guide book mentioned a tree which was often photographed. We’re literally in a forest, how the hell am I supposed to find that tree?? When I got there, it was pretty obvious so I took a few pictures. It was a really cool looking tree, so why not?
It occurred to me that it’d be a neat picture if I was in the tree. Problem: No one was around to take the picture. Solution: iPhone 6 has a timer for pictures so I could set a delay and climb the tree. Problem: It only has a 10 second delay and I had to get far enough away to get the entire tree in the shot. Solution: Run.
I honestly wish there would have been someone secretly filming my antics during this photo session. I had to look like some kind of moron running back and forth between my phone, which I’d hung in the loops of my trekking poles, and climbing this tree. Alas, I got a picture with which I was satisfied.
After that was done, I kept hiking. I should have paid more attention to the guide book to see what was immediately in store. Within five minutes of leaving there, I had to walk up a wall. Yep, a wall. Ok, to be fair, it wasn’t actually a wall; however, it was steep enough that some people were going up it on all fours. Not good.
Shortly after beginning my ascent, I saw a rock situated perfectly in the middle of the trail and, to me, it looked like North Carolina. I don’t know why, but this inspired me. I don’t want to sound like some seasoned thru-hiker, I swear. It’s just strange to me that some of the smallest things are amusing, these days. When you have nothing more than a pack, some gear, and 2,000+ miles to walk, you become less interested in the things that used to be important. I don’t even know what’s going on with Leonard and Penny.
I like to take a break from a long climb, especially when it’s clear out and I can see for miles, put on some good music, and just reflect on my life. I’m physically drained from the climb. The idea of giving up hasn’t penetrated my thoughts, yet. I do miss my family and the real world. However, I’m usually a pretty unhappy person and drawing from prior experiences really helps me calm down and realize that I’m fortunate enough to get to be out here doing this. It beats the hell out of staring at a computer screen or punching a clock. After a few moments of just standing still and looking around, I come back to reality and I’m pumped all over again. Too bad there’s still like a gazillion more feet of uphill before I hit this summit. It could be much worse, though.
Here are a few shots from the climb…
I finally made it over the top and figured, since I’d left well after everyone else, that I’d just take a slow day and take plenty of pictures for you guys. A few miles after clearing the summit, I came across this little footbridge. Again, I don’t want to sound like I’m getting soft, but it just made me happy for some reason. I think it might just be that it’s different. In the current environment, it seems to become redundant – hardwood forests that contain trees which are barren of leaves followed by rhododendron thickets. Add climbs and descents, rinse, repeat. Even a footbridge becomes special when you don’t see them but every few days.
Here’s the one I saw today…
A few more miles would uncover this pretty cool rhododendron tunnel. I know I said they’re everywhere, and if you get tired of seeing pictures of them, let me know. I won’t stop taking them, or posting them, but your discontent will be noted.
Getting closer to camp, I crossed a trail that just couldn’t be left out of the blog…
And for all of you guys out there, mainly my mom’s side of the family, who are worried about bear encounters, let this put your worries to rest…
We ended up doing 12 miles today and I feel really good. We’re only 19 miles from Franklin, NC, and I’m toying with the idea of trying to do them all tomorrow. I’ll see how I feel in the morning and make the decision then.
Oh yeah, I forgot to add that a guy in our camp tonight, Wookie, had some seriously infected toes. I was with him when he spoke to another guy on the trail, Doc, who is thru-hiking prior to starting his residency as a doctor. His advice was to get a super hot needle and lance the infected areas. No one in camp was willing to do it, so I performed my first surgery (yes, I’m calling it surgery, let me live) tonight. Patient is pain free and ambulatory. Go ahead and throw that one into my bag of tricks.
I’m still feeling really well. It’s amazing what a little sun can do. I also started taking a multivitamin today so I’m sure that has something to do with the physical health. I stayed committed to my plan and walked slow all day. DABS was about to send out a search party for me because he couldn’t believe he’d made it to camp before me on a 12 mile day. Hopefully you guys enjoy the pictures, because I certainly enjoyed the hike.
I feel like this honeymoon period is bound to wear off at some point, I just don’t know when. I honestly hope it doesn’t, because I’m really having a good time, meeting some great people, and I truly believe I’m growing as a person. Definitely looking forward to tomorrow.
Again, Fitbit isn’t syncing right so I’ll update this later. I know, I know, first world problems.