Stealth Campsite(864.6) to Stealth Campsite @ Ivy Creek(892.5) 27.9 Miles
I woke up this morning and decided I wanted to hike a marathon(26.2 miles). I looked at my AWOL guide and the terrain looked pretty good. I quickly packed up camp and ate my breakfast, which was brownies and instant coffee. I was on the trail by 7:15. The first hill I had to climb was called Bears Den Mountain and you won't believe what I saw at the summit. Nope, not a bear, but communication towers and tractor seats.
I did see a bear yesterday when I first got into the park, but I wasn't able to get a picture. My friends have this rule, that if you don't get a picture, it doesn't count. Bears are hard to photograph when they are running away. Deer, on the other hand, love to pose for me.
This section of trail today was very dry. I only had a few water sources all day. I hit a spring after only four miles and then nothing for the next twelve miles.
I like the way SNP marks the trail. The signs are cool looking and seem to have the latest mileage updates.
The rest of the AT features regular wooden signs that usually have old mileage information on them.
Later in the day I summited Black Rock Mountain. It was very cool looking. It was a large jumble of rocks and boulders.
From Black Rock I had 8.5 miles left in my marathon. I was still feeling really good and making good time. The next section of my hike took me around Loft Mountain Campground. There were several blue blazed trails that could have taken a few miles off my trek. Nobody would have ever known the difference, except me. As the rain clouds gathered and the wind howled, I forced myself to follow the white blazes instead of the blue. I eventually passed by the camp store. I was very excited to get a Gatorade, ice cream sandwich, chocolate milk, and a bag of chips. I also caught up to Rusty, Flick, and Kodak. They were the first thru-hikers I'd seen in a day and a half. They were staying at the camp grounds to wait out the weather, but I had to push on. I was only 1.2 miles from my goal and the dark clouds were still gathering. After twenty minutes I finally crossed the finish line, 26.2 miles complete. I looked for a place to camp, but for the first time I couldn't find anything. The trail had heavy vegetation on both sides. Every time there was a break in the bushes, I couldn't find anything that would work for me. The trees were all too close, or too small, or there were dead trees too close. At this point I was getting pretty frustrated. I was tired and hangry. I lumbered down the trail for an addition 1.7 miles before I found a usable spot. Just as I finished hanging up my tarp and hammock, the sky opened up and it began to pour. I grabbed my food bag and got comfy in my hammock. I had already decided not to cook dinner, so I ate all of my food that didn't need to be cooked. Dinner was comprised of a bag of chips, Oreo cookies, brownies, a builder bar, and Gatorade. I waited for the rain to lighten up before I hung my bear bag.
I'm pretty sure I'll sleep good tonight. Today was by far my longest day of hiking.
"You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things." -Mary Oliver