The Days Are Getting Longer
(I wrote this two days ago.)
As I am writing this, I’m sitting in my tent after a 15 mile day from Ice Spring Shelter to Jerry Cabin Shelter, a little bit out of Hot Springs. Speaking of Hot Springs, everyone should make it a priority to go there, tent, get a cabin or whatever suits you, and go rent your own private spring. It’s a giant hot tub that mythically heals wounds, or at least that’s what we tell ourselves.
Today, April 13th, marks one month of living on the Appalachian Trail. Not only that, but we also are camping at mile 300.1. Today is a huge milestone for the people I’m with, everyone around us, and most certainly myself. Coming into this trip I didn’t have expectations, but I definitely had personal ideas about the trail. I was worried about things that now, don’t make sense to worry about. I was right about a lot of things, but the trail holds many surprises. As thru hikers, and anyone for that matter, when we climb mountains and conquer physical and mental obstacles that were once thought not possible, it’s an extraordinary accomplishment.
The Great Smoky Mountains were something out of a novel. The entire length of the trail before them, we were hearing stories. All the the way through the Smokies, we were experiencing those stories. The views were endless, skies painted with ridges that went on for miles. The mountains, steeper than anything yet, and riddled with blowdown trees gave us the most challenging part. For the first 3 days we had mild weather, mostly in the low 50s and high 20s at night, but overall welcoming. The last two days, however; not so much. It didn’t reach more than 40 degrees during the day, and on our last night, it snowed a fair amount. We woke up to a snow covered trail. Crusts of ice were plastered to the rocks and every part of the trail seemed to be a bad route. Nonetheless, Mother Nature graced us again and it cleared for the rest of the day as we made our way into Standing Bear Hostel.
(Great Smoky Mountains, Northeastern Edge)
After a zero day at the hostel, we moved on, back into the swing of the things with a 15 miler, and an 18. Hot springs led us into our friend Bees’ birthday. We enjoyed a party with about 20 thru hikers at the cabins. We ate enough town food to feed the entire town. After a much needed soak in the springs, a list of chores that were checked off, and one last burger, we headed out the next morning.
Back into the woods and a few hours later I find myself here. I can’t help but think that nothing can get better than this. I have a trail family, which in my opinion is a real family. We do everything together. I have the ability to walk around and spend my only time finding the most insane views and ridges possible. I have the most minimal of worries, and I also have the most minimal of items. Funny how things work out, right? Even on the rainiest of days, I find myself grinning as I walk north. One month down, who knows how many more to go.
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