Note: I’m using my mother-in-law’s iPhone, not my usual PC keyboard, so I apologize for brevity and any clumsiness. This is no way to write.
Also apologize for not responding to other WordPress essays. Just too much happen in’ here.
I started May 2 and am now halfway through the Great Smoky Mountains. Just exceeded 200 miles. A lot of thru-hikers have evidently dropped out, due to the rigors, or a terrible spell of t-storms in Georgia. So I feel good I’ve stuck with it.
No hikers are observing COVID precautions. While I’m vaccinated, those others are taking a risk. But as they say, “Hike your own hike.”
I spent one overnight in Franklin, NC and am now on my second, in Cherokee, NC. (Most thru-hikers stay in kitschy Gatlinburg, but that carnival town’s not my style. Would rather give my business to the Cherokee Reservation than G-Burg mercantilists.) Otherwise, I’m in a tent or shelter in the woods.
Physical issues: toe and heel sores, but using moleskin & changing socks regularly, so no major blisters. Losing weight, which is concerning, since I’m scrawny as it is. Just dined delightedly on Indian taco w/ frybread and strawberry/rhubarb pie. Wearing compression socks to fight age-related varicose veins and “Disney rash.” Pretty common amongst us oldsters.
Mental issues: miss my family…and morning coffee, “Leave it to Beaver,” and a dozen other rituals of civilized living.
Mileage: averaging around 14 per day, which was my goal. These partial rest days detract from it, but are almost essential (caloric boosting, cleanup, bodily rest, etc.)
Best day: today, because trail was forgiving, went through hushed pine forests, and summited Clingman’s Dome (highest point east of Miss. River).
Worst day: yesterday. Constant steep ups and downs, trail a rock & root-littered trench.
People: mainly amazing. Met a Ridgerunner with prosthetic leg. Young overweight woman averaging only 7 or 8 miles a day, but headed solo for Maine. “Black Mountain Gang” from Asheville, NC: 3 bright, generous guys & 2 courageous gals in early 20s who pull each other along and give me renewed faith in the Millennial Generation. And others, incl. John & Jessica, who responded to my outstretched thumb, burned gas in Cherokee to locate my motel, & and gave me 2 much-appreciated beers.
Still don’t feel totally confident about “embracing” this strange lifestyle, and reaching Maine. But if I can nail the Virginia state line, that will be my watershed moment, my “litmus test.” We’ll see.
Thanks for following & supporting me and my cause AFSP! See earlier post.)
OMOO (my trail alias)