Becoming Sprout: Days 1-11
I’m currently chilling at Budget Inn in Hiawassee. I’ve got about 52.9 miles of trail under my feet now, plus about 200 more from being at camp every night. Everyone told me these Georgia mountains weren’t playing around and I believe them now.
Day 1 was a crazy, emotional day. Signing in the register on Springer, telling my dad & husband goodbye, and then saying “well we’re really doing it!” Did it feel real? Maybe. But not really. About half a mile in we met Crazy Lady, who asked if we were thru hiking. She told us “never let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. You can. Never let them tell you that you hike too slow, too fast, your pack is too much, too little. You can do it.” She’s my definition of a true trail angel.
On our 3rd day, my partner (Wild Child) & I met some section hikers in Suches at a hostel where I was recovering from aching muscles and blisters from a rainy 2nd day. We ran into them again on the trail the next day just a few miles after starting the day at Gooch Gap and made camp near Ramrock at a beautiful overlook there with them, talking and getting sunburned to a crisp that day and staring in awe at the amazing view that night.
For several days we enjoyed their company. Lots of good campfires and conversations and so many laughs at camp each night. Their company motivated me to keep going a little farther every day and it really sucked to tell our first trail family goodbye at Neel’s.
The temps dropped noticeably on the 19th and everyone was scrambling because there were rumors of freezing temperatures and snow. Lots of hikers went into town for a day or more but Wild Child, Panda, & I spent the 20th at Low Gap Shelter.
Woke up yesterday morning to a winter wonderland. Being from the beach, I’ve seen snow just a handful of times in my life. Ended up doing my biggest day, hiking 10 miles to Unicoi Gap.
There are days when I feel like I am really lagging, just crawling these mountains, while everyone around me is doing 12 and 15 mile days. There was an older man I ran into for just a second and he told me “You have to remember that the trail is going to equalize us all.” And he was spot on. Every day I feel like I’m getting stronger. I truly believe the trick to finishing my thru hike is simply not to quit. My body will stop hurting, the hard days will be over after sunset, and tomorrow is a whole new day.
I’ve met so many incredible people already and experienced some amazing trail magic. I’ve met a guy that carries a plastic flamingo, a man that hikes in panty hose, and had some of the best conversation of my life so far. Tomorrow we head back out and who knows what that section of the trail will bring. Whatever it is, I’m so ready. I’ve had a couple days where I truly miss home, I miss having an easy button on my life but I take it all as it comes. Tonight I’m full of Subway, clean, warm, and watching crap tv and that’s enough to make me happy for now.
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