What a rugged day? A huge one. Twelve miles done off a fresh resupply. Sucking wind like five-dollar boxed wine, we gained 3700ft of elevation. Keeping the humor high took effort but kept us going as we climbed into NC.
Our first state. Tomorrow our first 100. Couldn’t be happier doing it with this roving band of dirty hippies. It really is full of love. Sometimes a love that takes time to decipher. Yet, when it solidifies in the heart it fills the gaps left by imbibing Nature.
The night was filled with fire, smiles, and laughter. No better cure exists for a hard day’s work.
Twelve miles down! Big day, not too challenging though. We climbed up Standing Indian, the highest mountain yet, with less exertion than the day before. It flashed through my mind during the descent as to whether or not I’m to stay on trail part the end of this next month. Lots of miles, smiles, and trials to come. Trying to make a decision to stay or go now is irresponsible and the verdict would be irrelevant. It’s simple: I’ll walk till I’m done (a new life path intervenes or I no longer take from/ give to the trail) or I hit Katahdin. I feel happy. I feel at ease. The howling winds descending over the valley do little to dissuade me from continuing on. If I stay careful of consumption, If I stay careful to care for others and make them feel loved, If allow the trail to guide and me follow; I will terminate the trail when it is time.
The wind ripped through the trees. It intensified throughout the night. The morning held long frost crystals under underquilts, broken boughs onto tents, and a wind that wouldn’t lose breath. It took longer than my usual lollygag out of camp. Deciding to forgo breakfast for the use of my hands was made for me when I couldn’t open my Ziploc bag full of oatmeal.
As the day warmed, another hiker was found with an affinity for Ireland. We spoke of the green Isle and the miles fell away.
The next mile up Albert offered our first rock scramble. We ascended and so did the wind speed. Atop Albert, at 5,213 ft, was another first- a Fire Watch Tower! It leaned with the wind but gave our first glimpses of the towering Smokies.
The cold pushed us down into the valley. Our windburned hands warmed inside a brewery. We collected ourselves, committed to self-care, and got back out there.
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