Sunday, March 27, 2011

Back to the Woods

March 21
This woods seemed so alive this morning. The smell of leaves seemed to rise from the ground with each step I took, and there were streams and springs flowing freely across the trail. The sun returned, and with it its heat, but it was a beautiful day.
Several people from the shelter last night and I hiked 13 miles to a campsite at an old cheese factory. The first 7 miles were relatively flat and I completed them by noon. The last 6 miles were up, down, up, down, up. We did get some trail magic though! At Unicoi Gap a church group (the same one with the free burgers on Saturday) was waiting with snacks and cold drinks. And chairs! It was great. My knee felt pretty good today...I don't like taking medicine and I told myself at the beginning of this trip that I would not become a Vitamin I addict so I've been taking it pretty sparingly. It has been feeling better though.
There are 7 of us (and a dog) camped here at the cheese factory: Don, Lee, Phil and AJ, Bobby, Justin and Daisy (the dog), and myself. An interesting but pleasant crowd. Bobby started a fire and we all sat around and talked for a few hours. Very, very nice...although it's 11:00 and I'm still up! Anyway, it's been a great day.
I should be in Hiawassee the day after tomorrow; this will be my first trail town experience! It's supposed to be hot again tomorrow and I've been sweating like crazy (read: I smell bad) so a shower sounds really great right now.
So does pizza. Yeah, my appetite is totally kicking in.

March 20
It was a bit cooler today but very windy! The clouds hung around all day with the threat of rain but thankfully I haven't gotten wet yet. I am at Low Gap Shelter which is about 11 miles north of Neel's Gap. The hike wasn't bad and I made it here feeling pretty good. I took some Ibuprofen this morning which I think helped my knee because it didn't bother me much until the last mile or two. I also focused on planting my heel and rolling my foot into each step and that seemed to be beneficial as well (and looks a little more natural than dragging the leg behind me). Low Gap Shelter is a pretty spot with a stream running right beside it. It's peaceful to lay here and listen to the water (and the dog snoring beside me...). This is my first night in a shelter; there are a few campsites nearby but I decided to stay "inside" tonight with 5 other people and a dog.
Today on the trail I talked to a woman and her daughter who had their food eaten by a bear last night. Apparently the same thing happened to some other people in that same area the night before. Scary!
My appetite is starting to kick in. I ate quite a bit of (free!) food yesterday and am really starting to crave food; it's a good thing because I need the energy!
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