Last night was cold, but I actually slept pretty well. I liked the little enclave of NOBOs I tented with. They were jolly and funny and friendly.
As I’m sure you can all imagine, though, I woke up stiff and sore (but I had my pillow this trip, so at least there’s that!). Most of the stiffness worked itself out on the walk down to the privy. My knees are in remarkably good shape.
My hair, however…
I packed up and didnt dawdle in camp. I gave the rest of the bourbon to the guys as a thank you for being so nice to a section hiker. They were excited. The bourbon will have to be a staple on my hikes from now on. It’s been a good addition to my pack. I don’t really drink much, just a sip or two, but it sure helps to make friends!
I had an intense climb this morning, but most of the trail was sweet and gentle. It was a fast hike, even after yesterday’s miles. I wasn’t hurting much at all, except maybe my feet.
I hit Mill Ridge (I think that’s what it’s called). I could smell the sweet grass and hear the birds before I even saw the meadow. The sun was shining, the wind was just a breeze, and the birds were singing all around me. It was beautiful.
I stopped to smell the air and smile more than I should probably admit.
Shortly after lover’s leap I saw a day hiker talking to a NOBO thruhiker. Something about the thru hiker looked familiar, so I slowed down.
“Hey,” I said, “didn’t I run into you in the Smokies?”
“Maybe!” she said. “Were you the one who told me about standing bear?”
“Yes!” I replied.
We chatted, and she told me her name was Sunshine. I explained how I ended up headed in to hot springs, and she explained how she ended up just now headed out of hot springs.
“Well this must be a sign,” she said. “We’re going to have a good day now.”
“I think you’re right.”
I always wonder how the people I run in to are doing. I’m glad I could see Sunshine again, and add her to my list of People I Care About. You can never have enough people on that list, I think.
It has been a good day. It’s been a good weekend. I’ve only thought about school in incredibly positive ways, by which I mean thinking about the smoke of a fire as free convection or seeing louvers on the bottom of a jetboil as enhancing heat transfer. School has made me understand the world around me better, and that’s something nice to remember. I had also woken up to a text from my friend Sarah, an engineer I’d worked with at my co-op in Birmingham. She’s since moved to Hawaii (rough for her) but we keep in touch. She gave me a nice pep talk and it was just nice to know I’m not alone.
My shuttle driver came and we talked on the drive about hiking alone and section hiking. I got to my car and started driving back home. I was surprised that my directions were taking me a different way…in fact, they were taking me right next to my Aunt and Uncle’s house. I called them up and asked if I could drop by.
I stayed longer than I intended to, mostly because it was so nice to see my Greeneville family again (minus cousin Kelli and her fiancé Caleb). My cousin Samantha was there with her husband Brandon, and I’d missed them a lot too. Samantha is pregnant and I hadn’t seen her in a while, so it was great to see her cute pregnant belly.
We chatted about sports and babies and family things. Eventually I had to head out, and I was sad to say goodbye to all of them. Fortunately I’ll have another section hike or two that puts me near Erwin and that area, so I’ll have more excuses to drop by. Hope y’all are ready 🙂
Last night, when I texted Gonzo and carpenter that I’d just walked 26.2 miles, I added “I am dead.”
Gonzo replied, “no you aren’t. You are alive and doing amazing things.”
Sometimes, I feel like maybe I am.