After 8 days on the trail, I decided it was time for a rest day - on the trail it's called a 'Zero Day' for zero miles. It's been quite a week of learning the ways of the AT.
The last few days have been tough, but it's all getting better. There were several very difficult climbs over Blood Mountain, Tray Mtn, and the worst, Kelly Knob. Kelly is considered the toughest in Ga, due to the most elevation change in the shortest distance - 900+ feet in less than a mile.
I am feeling fine, but there are lots of sore spots, aches and pains. My right foot (the one with the nerve problem) seems to hurt on a regular schedule - between 11a and 1p, then fades away. My left hamstring takes a while to warm up in the morning, and the knees always hurt on the downslopes. But, I have stopped taking any pain meds to make sure the pain I feel is nothing serious. I am adapting to the trail pretty well. The muscles are there, but I am still working on my lung power - the up hill climbs are still pretty tough for me - lots of rest stops - sucking wind along the way. But, everyone else is having pretty much the same issue - AND I AM STILL KEEPING UP WITH THE 20-YEAR OLDS!
While everyone is pretty much hiking solo (with a couple of exceptions), we are forming little hiking groups that share hiking styles, patterns, or distance goals. We are learning little trail tricks from each other, as each has different skills and experiences.
So, let's see........today is Monday, April 9th. If I remember correctly:
Thursday - was spent a Lance Creek. We made Hobo Stew where everyone put in a little something. 'Ultimatum' had brought a small bag of potatoes to cut up. I provided my minestrone soup mix and for an after dinner surprise - Instant Pudding. I think that was our first double-digit mileage day.
Friday - I was at the Blue Mountain shelter, to a cold and rainy night and morning. The hike out was freezing and over large rocks that beat up my knees. There was no view other than clouds and fog - that in itself was beautiful, but didn't lend itself to photos. It was a long suffering day.
Saturday - was spent at Tray Mtn Shelter after a short day of 8 miles - but there were two pretty strong climbs in there somewhere. At the shelter was a Ridge Runner - an employee of the ATC - who travels the trail looking for obstacles and problems that the local maintenance club would need to fix. He's also a valuable resource for information and advice.
Sunday - It was another 11 mile day over the Kelly Knob and a downhill that never seemed to end. Finally reached the road at Dicks Creek Gap where US 76 crosses. We caught the motel shuttle van for a ride into Hiawassee and a stay here at the Budget Inn - about a dozen hikers sharing three rooms. After 8 days of traveling at 2 miles per hour, the ride down the hill in the van was like a roller coaster carnival ride - wheeeeeeeeee!. We reconnected with two hikers who left the trail to nurse knee injuries. One left this morning for home to nurse her knee and see her own doctor. The other is going to give it another couple of days and try to get back on the trail. The whole group gathered in the evening and had a good campfire in the grassy park of the motel property. For a change we all stayed up past 'Hiker Midnight" (9pm) drinking beer and eating everything several times - ice cream, cake, hamburgers, pizza, more ice cream, more hamburgers. As you can tell, we starve on the trail and gorge in town. We hike and dream of food.
While the group is enjoying the camraderie and the sharing of trail experiences, we also talk about how the group is eventually going to break up as some go slow and others speed up. We have exchanged email addresses to help keep in touch. We will follow each other's progress in the shelter logs to see who got to where ahead of us.
So today is a quite one - fixated on resting and eating and charging of batteries (literally and figuratively). This afternoon I will strip all my gear and supplies and decide what I need for the next week - followed my a trip to the grocery store to stock up.
Tomorrow morning I will catch the shuttle to take me back to the trail crossing to continue the adventure. It's getting to be lunch time (food thoughts again) so let me finish for now. This afternoon I will try to load up so photos for you.
Six-Six on the AT.