Hiawassee/Unicoi Gap

AT miles hiked today: 9.7
Total AT miles hiked: 52.9

I woke up at 5:45 and was heading out of camp by 7:20. I think I was the first one out. I ate protein bars as I walked. I loved being up so early and getting a head start on the day. The birds were singing and the clouds slowly gathered overhead and it was cool and humid and green. Jerry caught up to me around 9:00. He had left camp at 7:30, just ten minutes behind, but took that long to catch me. We hiked together for a while and I sped up a bit because he stayed near me for a while and we talked. That was nice.

Late Start has a friend who lives in Hiawassee, and was getting a ride into town, where we could resupply, so Two Mules, Wendigo and I accepted his offer of a ride from Unicoi Gap. I made good time on the gentler terrain, though the rocks slowed me down. There was lightening flashing kind of near, and thunder, and it was overcast, but it only rained on me for about ten minutes. I never even put on my rain jacket though I did cover my pack.

The shelter up on Blue Mountain made for a windy lunch, and I put on my rain jacket to stay warm. Flower Child decided to camp there, and I beat Wendigo there, which was my goal. He left camp just after 8 am, and he caught me at noon. I only beat him by about 15 minutes, but I hiked 7.2 miles in about 4.5 hours, which is a record for me. I'm getting faster!

He only beat me to the bottom by five minutes and then we waited for an hour and a half for the others. Wendigo worried he'd miss getting his package from the post office, so we decided to try our first hitch hike together after a another hiker got dropped off and said he had gotten a ride within a mile of walking down the road. I put out my thumb for a ride, for the first time in my life and we had a ride within 10 minutes with a nice guy who gives hikers rides (windows down, packs in the bed of the truck) in case some day he ever needs a ride maybe karma will kick in. Two Mules was there about 15 minutes later.

We shared rooms at the Budget Inn and Slaughterhouse and Brett were two rooms down. I rode in the shuttle to Springer with them. They couldn't figure out how I caught them until we realized they had come in from Dick's Creek Gap, nearly 20 miles ahead on the trail. Slaughterhouse has some serious blisters, and so does Indian Brave, who I met there. I met Will See, as well. I feel pretty good about my feet. They hurt/ache but I only have one red spot on the back of my heel. I'll put duct tape over it tomorrow.

We had pizza and beer, did laundry, showered, and Two Mules decided whether to take a zero tomorrow. Wendigo and I are hiking out tomorrow. I expect he'll leave me behind soon. He has aspirations of bigger mile days and I'm not up to 15 milers yet. Tomorrow will be shorter anyway because the shuttle brings us back at 11.