Dreams are weird.
Right, so, I got up early and left by 7:15. Great few miles in the crisp morning air till I got to the next shelter, and I had juuuust missed the guys leaving at 10ish. Kept walking in the warming day, expecting to see the guys at any point. Didn't. (what I DID see, though, was the poo of at least 50 horses, but never did see an actual horse. Strangely frustrating.) I did pass Yeti and then caught Little Foot and Pee-Wee at the gap. (I had walked 16 miles by 1pm and was officially out of the Smokies!) It was 2.4 more miles to the Standing Bear hostel where the boys were going to stop for lunch. I ended up getting there about 20 mins after they did, and we chilled for an hour in a half in this amazing little hippy village.
Little Foot, Pee-Wee and Yeti rolled in shortly after. The guys had a bunch of snacks and made a pizza, and I had a Coke, an oatmeal cream pie, and a Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwich. We soaked our feet in the stream and later had an ice pop. It was so nice out. We didn't want to leave, but the boys had only done 8 miles (24 yesterday, tho!!) and we all kinda wanted to camp for free rather than pay a hostel.
Sooooo as the sugar high was leaving our veins, we took off on an uphill battle, looking for a suitable campsite. The next shelter was another 7 something miles away. The guys blazed uphill and I was starting to fade. Little Foot was in front. Xan and Brian were somewhere in the middle. I was feeling pretty slow (walking since 7:15am!). The knee I fell on was a bit sore, but not from falling. It's just always the knee that's sore, especially going downhill. It's the blisters on my heels that are the most sore tho. Both heels now! Even my trusty, go-to left foot?! Just waiting for my baby skin to die off and my big girl skin to grow in, I guess...
So I kept going. And going. And going... Passing a couple campsites, but nothing too good for four of us, and I didn't see the boys. Still hot out. Kinda buggy. I think I'm getting an idea of what summer may be like... Kept going. More uphill. No idea how far we'd gone or when we left or how far it was to the next anything. Tired. Feet hurt. Then the hill broke out into a grassy bald and I started to sing "thaaaaaa HILLS are aliiiiiive... with the sound of muuuuuusic!" It was a beautiful sight with the Smokies in the background. Kept walking across the bald and back onto the woods, but now it was downhill. Ahhhh. Better. Since it got up to about 80 degrees and was sunny all day, it was oh-so-nice to be going downhill in the shade. (ps: I stank)
Right about 7:45pm, when I was thinking about when I should start thinking about starting to worry, I came to a shelter sign! And the boys had written my name in the dirt with an arrow. I'd made it!!?! 25.3 miles!!! That's almost a marathon!! And it took just about 2.5 times as long as it did to run the one I did... I felt pretty good. Feet hurt, but spirits were high. The shelter (only sleeps 6) was full, but the boys were setting up camp down by the stream, so I joined. A beautiful spot. After setting up camp, we all ate around the fire Xan and Little Foot made and joked around until eyelids got heavy. A few big days for them and for me. Well deserved sleep ahead... and maybe rain tomorrow afternoon... Glad we got in some major miles during the nice weather. Fewer than two days till a zero day in Hot Springs, NC!!!
(25.3 miles...! I'm a bad ass, right? Am I right?? I'm right, right? I'm so right... Am I right?)
-- Posted from the trail...
Location:Ground Hog Shelter