Days 6 and 7: 30,000 feet

Day 6Sunday, March 24
Bush camp, mile 60.8

Short day—just 13 miles.

That kind of makes me laugh. Last time, I didn’t get this far until day 9. I’m currently holding steady in the middle of the pack, I think—which is awesome. And today I did three 4000-footers. Blue Mountain, Rocky Mountain, and Trey Mountain. (Doing the Sierra really changed my perspective on climbing mountains!) That’s a lot of elevation gain and loss in one day, when you add in the smaller ones in between.

So, yesterday I met a man with a pack of girls—daughters, maybe, or scouts. It was a hot day and a steep climb. I was going down, and they were going up. The guy had roughly the shape and the pallor and the benign affability of a dumpling. Sweat was just pouring off him.

Dumpling was trying to encourage the girls. “Almost there! We’re almost at the top!” They looked bored.

When we passed one another, Dumpling said, “We’re almost at the top, right?”

And I said, “Yup!” And then I joked, “Only 412 more miles!”

And as I trudged down past the, I heard Dumpling say in a tiny voice, “Too soon.”

It cracked me up. Hope they ended up having a great hike!


Day 7
Monday, March 25
Top of Georgia Hostel — mile 69.2

It poured rain this afternoon! But I got to the hostel at 1ish to nero and pick up my resupply. So… much… food. Argh.

End of week one. One week. I feel great.

I was talking to a guy at the last shelter who said he’d been going pretty fast compared to other hikers, and I asked him when he started. “The 20th,” he said.

“Wow, that IS fast,” I said. Then I blinked and realized that’s when I started. lol. He started at Springer on the 20th. I did the Approach Trail on the 19th (Springer on the 20th). Buddy, neither of us is setting any records here. (Solid middle, as far as I can tell.)

The Trail was nice today. Hard, long descent, though. My knees really felt it.

When I said no aches, no pains, I meant no unusual aches and pains—ie, shin splints, Achilles issues, IT band issues. I do have the standard collection of skinned knees, exercised muscles, and some really spectacular (but not serious) bruises.

Long-distance hiking is still the hardest, most brutal physical thing I’ve ever done. (Aside from, maybe, my second-degree black belt test a hundred years ago, but that only lasted a half hour.)

Every morning in the black, hiking by headlamp in the silence, just me and the moon, I hear the owls calling. I’ve missed them so much. Can I stay out here forever?

Tomorrow: North Carolina!