I’m going to try to articulate my last few days, but it’s going to be difficult considering my concept of time here in the woods is blurring. (Which, might I add, is an incredibly liberating and beautiful thing.)
The day before entering the NOC, I met a girl from Germany named “Nature”. Nature was pivotal in teaching me the importance of taking off my shoes multiple times a day to break up my hike and enjoy a dry pair of socks. I needed this reminder, considering I was usually only stopping once around lunch time to eat and then carry on my day.
Some faces are becoming more and more familiar and it’s a wonderful feeling when people are excited to see you roll into a shelter or campsite at the end of the day. One night Nature and I met up with our friends “Jellydog” and “Hotdog” and they had brought up some good local North Carolina beer to camp and we all pitched in on a dinner “pot luck” that consisted largely of varying potato and tuna side dishes.
The next day was rainy, but we decided to all hike together to keep moral up. We all rinsed our already wet hair in a stream on the side of the mountain that was given life by a rhododendron leaf that someone left behind. That same day we stopped by a random shelter to dry off and eat lunch and “Hotdog” found a thru-hiker from Jamaica that was carrying a fiddle along with him. (Hotdog is a professional Violin maker and is extremely musically talented). We all ate a warm lunch and watched him play with the biggest smile on his face.
In Fontana I had to say goodbye to Nature for now. She was meeting some friends in town for a “zero” and I felt good enough to keep going, plus I was excited to enter the Smokies. On my walk next to the dam that morning, two women stopped me and asked me about my pack. They could not believe I was out here by myself thru-hiking (especially without a gun or a man). By the end of our conversation they were so impressed, thought it was incredibly brave, and could potentially let each of their daughters do it one day. I continued on my walk by the water for about a mile and half and the same women met me at the next trail head with Krispy Kreme donuts and gave me the warmest hugs. I explained to them what they did was “trail magic” and they said they were going to go get more donuts to give out!
Yesterday, I met my 200 mile mark at the highest point of the AT, Clingmans Dome-360 degrees of the bluest skies and mountains as far as your eyes could see. When I got to Newfound Gap I met the two most amazing Trail Angels named “Mountain Mamma” and “Godspeed”. They made me a ham and cheese sandwich and drove me into town where I successfully got my first mail drop box at the NOC in Gatlinburg, TN (Thanks momma!!). I have been “out walking” that damn box and the food, medicine, and contacts that were in it for several days. I hope that will get easier.
Going to keep on trekking through the Smokies today! Loving each day fully!
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