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.
I also apologize for not responding to other WordPress essays. Just too much happenin’ 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 that I’ve stuck with it.
No hikers are observing COVID-19 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 so far: today, because trail was forgiving, went through hushed pine forests, and summited Clingman’s Dome (highest point east of Mississippi River).
Worst day so far: yesterday. Constant steep ups and downs, trail a rock and root-littered trench.
People: mainly amazing. Met a Ridgerunner with prosthetic leg. Young overweight woman averaging only seven or eight miles a day, but headed solo for Maine. “Black Mountain Gang” from Asheville, NC: three bright, generous guys and two courageous gals in early ’20s who pull each other along and give me renewed faith in the Millennial Generation. And others, including John and Jessica of Knoxville, Tennessee, who responded to my outstretched thumb, burned gas in Cherokee to locate my motel, and and gave me two 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 and supporting me and my cause, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention! (See earlier post.)
– OMOO (my trail alias)