Tossing and turning all night made for poor sleep. The night was cold and condensation inside the tent frosted, as we were close to our water source. Even our bags were wet! Thank goodness for DownTek sleeping bags (thanks Enlightened Equipment).
We started a fire and laid our our gear to dry while eating breakfast and getting ready for the day.
It was a sunny, hot, exposed day as we roller coastered over 700 foot inclines. My back has become quite sore, and the knots in my shoulders are growing. Even as my pack weight decreases, I can only push an extra couple miles a day. Stretching has become even more important.
I will note, however, that there was a small accomplishment that made me quite giddy. I was finally able to put my pack on without strapping myself in from a seated position. Up until this point I would have to prop my bag up against something, put my shoulder and hip straps on tight, and use my trekking poles to propel me up. I already broke one tip doing that... and the crashing weight of my pack also took my sunglasses.
But nope, today I fiercely pulled my pack up from the ground, threw it onto my bent knee for the split second it could hold the weight, and quickly threw my arms in the straps. Graceful? No way; an achievement non-the-less.
We did just under 12 miles today, making it the longest yet, but still nowhere close to what we need. Andy's wife is having a baby, and I only budgeted for a certain amount of time off.
As we climbed, and Andy sped ahead of me, the realization that I will not be able to accomplish the AZT unsupported in my time frame, became increasingly apparent.
I have two options: send food ahead and do a standard thru-hike, or go for a 30 day unsupported hike and see how far it gets me.
In just over a day, we will cross our first town (we walk down main street as part of the trail). This will be the point where I will need to make my decision.
We're camped out across a small pool of water on a surprisingly busy forest service road (we've seen six vehicles!) where we enjoyed a great fire and the howling of coyotes behind us. Hopefully they don't bother us in the night.
As I lay in bed, the question lingers over me: do I want to accomplish another trail, or have a unique experience. I can not do both.