Unicoi Gap(52.9) to Stealth Camp(59.3) 7.6mi
Today was a day of firsts for me. I took my first Nero day, which is a day coming into or out of town and hiking short miles. A zero day is when you stay in town over night, then hike zero miles, thus a Nero day is near zero miles. We took our time getting ready this morning. We were able to enjoy a very good continental breakfast. I think we all stuffed ourselves before stuffing our pockets full of condiments and oatmeal packets. Then it was off to the dollar general store for a quick resupply. I spent $10 for 4 days of food.
Sadly our group of 6 was whittled down to a group of 4. Chuck(The Weather Man) decided to take a zero day and Greg was forced to see a doctor about his knee, so he also zeroed. I'm hoping we see Chuck again, but not sure. The trail works in mysterious ways. We will definitely hook back up with Greg since he is yellow blazing(skipping ahead a section by catching a ride) tomorrow. I know we won't all be together for the whole trip, but it's hard moving past your friends.
Today was also the first day I used my ipod to listen to music. I'm not sure why I waited so long to do it, but I love it. We had a super difficult climb to start the day, but I cruised right along thanks to some great tunes. Before I knew it, I lost Sherlock and the Sherpa Twins. I tried to let them catch up but I got too far ahead. It was kind of nice to have some alone time. I have been much more social on this trail than I ever imagined I would be.
I'm starting to get in a routine and the hiking has been pretty easy so far. We had two terrible climbs today, but my body has really adjusted nicely. It's a great feeling to be crushing the mountains. So far, I'm one of the few people that hasn't had an injury. I've had zero blisters and no knee pain, which everybody else seems to be complaining about. I keep telling myself when something really sucks, that it was actually fun. Most of the time I even believe it. I've started to realize that everyday is a personal challenge. I can let the day win, or I can do my best and conquer the day. It's kind of like, being able to have a personal record each and every day.
I love the challenge of it.
Today was also my first real experience of trail magic. As I was preparing to scale the colossal Tray mountain, I came upon a guy parked in a camper on the side of the trail. He drive up crappy forest service roads to provide hikers with hot dogs and Klondike bars. The neat part was he is from South Tampa, about 20 from where I live. He is spending the next three weeks at different points along the trail feeding NoBo hikers. Thanks King Croc. You are amazing.
Trail Magic Provided by King Croc
It was here that the rest of my group caught up to me. The climb up Tray Mt took us up to 4,400 feet. That's only 30 feet less than the dreaded Blood Mt from the other day.
View from Top of Tray Mountain
I feel like the really big milage days are right around the corner. On Thursday I will hit my first milestone, I'll cross the border into North Carolina. 1/14 states that I will walk through on my adventure to Maine.
A big storm is supposed to roll in later tonight. I'm trying a new setup with my hammock. I've pitched my hammock really close to the ground with my tarp close around it. I'm hoping this will help to keep the heat in and also reduce the wind blowing under the hammock.
I discovered last night that I don't like sleeping indoors anymore. Every time the a/c came on it would wake me up. Hopefully tonight brings a good night sleep.
Thanks to everyone for the nice comments on my blog. I look forward to reading them every morning.
The Forest Starting to Turn Green
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. Thoreau