AT miles hiked today: 5.9
Total AT miles hiked: 137.3

I decided that the sudden sharp pains in the sole of my right foot at the end of the day yesterday were due to the new gel insoles, so I took them out and put back the original insoles. My feet felt much better. I think they got too much movement and were overextended because of that extra movement in the gel insoles. I don't really know, but the old insoles felt better, so I'm giving away the gel ones.

I made it to the Nantahala Outdoor Center in great time this morning. I left camp at 7:20 and arrived here at 10:30. They let me check into a bunk for tonight and tomorrow night. That feels very indulgent, but my body wants a rest, so I am giving it a rest. I already ate ice cream, drank a mexican coke, had a turkey and cheese sandwich, plus chips, a banana, and a beer. That cost me $25. As soon as laundry is done, I'll shower, carry an empty backpack and try to hitch a ride with Houdini into Bryson City. There is an Ingles there where we can resupply. Things are expensive here at the NOC, but the bunks are only $19 a night and laundry is only $2.50 to wash and dry a load. It's cheaper than the other places I've done laundry, but the NOC is very spread out, so there is a lot of walking up and down hills. My leg is looking better already. A day and a half ought to fix it, and me.

Mary saw Houdini and I hitchhiking by the NOC general store and she came and asked us where we were headed. She was just reading a book on a woman AT hiker. She not only drove us to Ingles, but she helped me find things and drove us back to the NOC, where she was only five minutes late to pick up Joe from the river. She was really a trail angel, and so was a woman at the store who used her Ingles card to get me a discount on my purchases. I've received plenty of trail magic, just when I needed it. People are really wonderful, you know.

Another hiker, Mike, is staying here tonight, and so is a former thruhiker, Single Track, who gave me some advice about how to hike the next 28 miles to Fontana Dam (short day, looong day, short day).

We tried to find Mike for dinner, but no luck. I had an amazing burger with onion rings, and we split a hot blackberry cobbler with ice cream on it. I also had a beer from the store and a premixed margarita I found there. Happy belated Cinco de Mayo! Apparently, there was a big party and lots of hikers celebrating here last night. We benefited from it with free food left in the fridge. Thanks guys!