The day after a town day is really difficult, but today was extremely difficult. I had such a great time with Annie(Cheeto) and JC(Pig Pen) yesterday that starting today was hard emotionally. Hot Springs was such a great town and having friends around made me seriously considering taking a double zero. Plus the weather today was pretty iffy. It was overcast and sprinkled on and off all day. I also have to carry 5.5 days worth of food, so my pack felt extremely heavy. I took my time leaving Hot Springs and didn't hit the trail until 11. I had planned on doing 12-13 miles, but after my first mile I knew that wasn't going to happen. Some how I managed to miss a switchback and got off trail. To make it even worse I found an old trail that I followed for 30 minutes. To make things much worse, the old trail was nearly vertical on eroding soil. I climbed as high as I could, losing footing and almost skidding off the mountain. I knew something wasn't right, but couldn't make myself turn around, fearing I would have to make the climb again. Finally, I decided to go back down, but it was really sketchy and I worried about taking a serious fall. In the end, I sat down and slid on my butt using my hiking poles as a break. It was not my finest trail moment. I was filthy dirty and had only been on the trail for an hour. As I doubled back, I immediately saw where I got off trail. All I could do was shake my head and press on.
As I followed the proper trail I had great views of Hot Springs and the surrounding area.
Ominous Clouds in Background
The next few hours went by pretty quickly, since the trail was pretty easy after the first climb. I didn't see too many hikers around for most of the day. I'm guessing because everyone else started earlier than me and I was also walking pretty slow. I'm definitely going to need new shoes. My left foot started hurting almost right away today. I'm pretty sure I need a shoe with a wider foot box. Hopefully I can get it sorted out next time I'm in town.
I came across more random tombstones today. These were only 1 foot off the trail and about 100 yards apart on opposite sides of the trail. I'm not sure what their stories were, but I'm intrigued by them.
I also walked past an old tobacco farming area. It had an old box spring(kind of like a dam) built by the CCC. I ate lunch next to it,
The only other interesting part of the day was this old sign I walked past. Notice how the tree has grown around the top.
Once I arrived at the shelter I was immediately greeted by HVAC and Lorax. I was thrilled to be able to spend another night camped next to them. The shelter also had a few new faces, Gadget Boy, Doctor Greenthumb, and some guy I immediately disliked. We got into an argument about people yellow blazing(using a car to skip sections of the trail). I'm pretty against this because I feel like it takes away from what thru-hikers accomplish. We walk 2,189.2 miles to finish and they miss sections by driving. I'm all for hiking your own hike, but yellow blazing isn't hiking. I remembered a quote from Mark Twain that my dad says a lot, " Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference." I quickly stopped talking with him and went to bed. It's not smart to alienate strangers out here, and continuing the conversation served no purpose. Everybody is allowed an opinion, I just don't have to listen to it. Once again, there is that personal growth moment for me. Usually, I would have continued the conversation and then stewed about it all night.
I hope to push out more miles tomorrow. The weather looks like it's going to be nice for 2 whole days. The low tonight is supposed to be 32 degrees, but I'm sticking with my hammock. I might get cold, but at least I'll be comfortable in my hammock versus the hard shelter surface.
"Seek the lofty by reading, hearing and seeing great work at some moment every day." -Thornton Wilder