AT miles hiked: 10 (according to AWOL's guide which has accurate 2012 mileage of 2184 miles so I will use it as the mileage reference).
Camped at campsites just north of Justus Creek.
9:45 pm. I am warm in my sleeping bag, in my tent again. It rained last night so I packed my tent up wet, and took over two hours to break camp in the morning. I didn't leave camp until 10:30. I hope I get faster at this. My tent was still wet when I unpacked it at 7:30 tonight. I haven't stayed at a shelter yet, though I have taken breaks at them and met some cool people. Here are some of the people I have met. Goldpan, Bluebearee, #5, Zen, Loren, Spirit Walker, Josh. I forget the other's names but maybe I'll see them again in the registers at the shelters. I sign the registers when I take a break there. I've been calling myself Apothecary, because it fits me in many ways (all my little spices and oils and the Jin Shin Jyutsu) and a majority of my friends voted for it. I am open to a change, though, if a better name comes to me on the trail.
I took only two liters of water (4 pounds!) with me this morning. I knew there was water at Hawk Mountain Shelter, from AWOL's guide and maps. Once at the shelter I used the full liter for food. Looking at the guide, it seemed as if water was closer to access about a half mile down the trail, so I decided to move on with less than a liter. Some people only carry a liter all day, but I drink more than that. Anyway, I saw a trail going another direction but wasn't thinking of water then and I headed up a mountain. Partway up I realized I had gone too far and missed the water source. I knew the next water source was seven miles ahead, but I kept going and rationed my water. I didn't mean to hike 10 miles today, but I hadn't peed since lunch, and I knew I was dehydrated and I'd just feel worse in the morning if I didn't get water tonight. So I pushed slowly on. And sang to distract myself from my thirst as I practically crawled up Sassafrass and Justus Mountains.
I sang songs about water and made up lyrics about my foolishness. At least the last couple miles were downhill and faster. My legs were weak and I didn't dare relax until after I came down the log steps to the creek. I stopped right there and took my shoes off and soaked my sore feet in the cold water. It felt like heaven. Then I rinsed out my socks and my skirt (which is apparently the way hikers are describing me to each other on the trail). Maybe I should take Macabi as a trail name, or "the girl in the long green skirt." The skirt is working well for me, and so are the shoes and socks. I got a hot spot right near the end of the day, but not blisters like some of the others. Lots of hikers have the Brooks Cascadia shoes, and I see why. I haven't tried the new inserts that Joyce sent me, but tomorrow seems like a good time to break them in and see how they feel.
On another note, I have a list in my mind of things I'm sending home from Neel Gap. My pack is too heavy, big surprise. I started feeling these cramps, shooting pains and tingles at the base of my neck. Am I adjusting my pack correctly?