AT miles hiked today: 2
Total AT miles hiked: 544.2

I am writing from a little clearing in the tall grass right next to the AT, just north of Atkins. We probably didn't even get a mile out of town, but we started late and it was so hot and I didn't want a repeat of yesterday. I also don't feel as if I've recovered from my heat exhaustion from yesterday. We had decided to sleep in today but didn't set up a specific time so the morning was gone before I knew it. We had breakfast at the Barn and were a bit late checking out of the hotel. Eagle Eye had so much food in her package that she couldn't fit it into her pack and had to put some in the hiker box at the hotel. We sat in the shade outside of the room organizing and repacking our bags. I had to dig in and get my electrolytes out. I drank some right there and got more out for later.

A woman at The Barn said most hikers are at about day 60 of their hike when they get to Atkins. I am at day 62 today, so I feel better, that I am not as slow as I thought. It's just that all these May starters are flying by and doing 28 miles in a day when I still sometimes struggle for 14. It makes me feel so slow, but I am really just average and that is a relief somehow. She also said the temperature would be 97 today, with a heat index of 101. I was dreading the heat and could find no motivation to hike in it, so I delayed and stalled and called people. Anything to not hike. When we did leave we stopped in the Shell station where the lady let me have free ice water and let us sit in the AC and cool off. We stayed until after 1pm and then dragged up to the Exxon,.which is closing tomorrow, and had everything half off.

We got snacks and decided to just get out of town and maybe find a shady spot to wait out the heat and eat our snacks. So we laid out my ground cloth and Eagle Eye's rain cloth in the shade and she is napping as I catch up on my blog.

I may need to consider using the mid afternoon siesta as a way to manage the heat until I can flip flop. Otherwise, how will I finish this hike or even Virginia?

A mile later, there is a campsite and water and it started to thunder and rain, so we stopped and set up our tents. We broke a branch trying to put up our food bags, which are very heavy, as always after a resupply. We apologized to the tree and then I got my rock over a very high branch on my first attempt, in the dark and rain. Then we burned the branch in our summer solstice fire that Eagle Eye built. It was already mostly dead, which is probably why it really broke. I am very good at throwing the rock to get the rope over the tree branch to hang a bear bag. I guess all those years of throwing newspapers up to the third floor apartment landings paid off on the AT. Who knew....

I found myself a throwing rock after two campsites in a row where I couldn't find the right size and weight of rock. Now I carry my rock with me when I hike. I think I need to name my pet throwing rock, and decorate it. Other people may not understand or approve of my carrying a rock while thru hiking, but bear bag throwing is an art. I need the right tools, or rock in this case. I think I will wash it and draw on it with my sharpie. Maybe I'll call it Wilson.