Good evening! The drink of the day is Irish coffee, and I daresay I earned it! I woke up just before dawn today, and enjoyed listening to all the birds beginning to chirp to welcome the dawn. Less enjoyable was missing the rock that serves as a step down… That’s right, Ziptie literally fell out of the shelter this morning. No harm done, save to pride! Luckily, no one saw, and if a Ziptie falls in the forest, no, she doesn’t make a sound. I was still pretty damp and chilly, but slept pretty well regardless. Though I admit I dawdled at the shelter until the rain stopped, about 8:30 am.
Today was a long day. Mercifully it never rained on me, but the trees dripping water made up for it anyway. Some of the trail was flat, a lot of it was breathtakingly beautifully green, most of it was rocky, and there were two sections that were just downright FUN.
Described simply as “rock maze” in the maps, these two parts took me back to childhood freehand rock climbing. In these two great playing fields of stone, white blazes were not enough to indicate the path. The trail maintainers had white arrows drawn on the rocks to indicate which crevice between standing rocks to go through, specifically. Often, it involved a scramble, or squeezing through – with full pack, mind you. Twice, I had to throw the hiking poles up onto the rock above, and haul myself up using any available rock cracks and handhelds I could find. It was just plain fun!
I was going to stop, have a snack, and rest a bit at the last shelter, 4 miles from endpoint, but a man carrying a bucket of bleach warned me off – apparently someone had gotten sick in there, and they were not sure why, so they wanted to disinfect it and give it time… Okay by me! I found a convenient log along the trail instead. (i heard later it was because one of the Georgia thru-hikers had completed the half-gallon of ice cream challenge, but his stomach couldn’t handle it.)
All in all, I did a solid 12.2 mile day today, plus an extra .8 to get to the place where I will stay while I do a full zero day tomorrow. Trail surfaces included rocks, dirt, sand, and a trail between cornfields on the last 1.4 miles into Boiling Springs. It was my longest day yet, and my legs are definitely feeling it. And new blisters on my feet.
Side note- I’m really happy with the Keen boots I finally settled on. Up to today, no problems at all – and I think today was more on account of the socks I had on.
If I keep typing, this entry will be longer than then the hike today…