Miles hiked: 11.5
Pack weight: 34 lbs
Today was rebirth. I got a late start today as I spent the morning switching out my shoes for something bigger. I ended up going from a 10.5 to a 12 and it made a world of difference; I’m no longer smashing my toes. There was a girl in the hostel taking a day off who I was talking to for a few minutes and both her big toes were completely black and bleeding. I wasn’t nearly that bad, as my right toe was just starting to get black.
Between yesterday and today, I also managed to drop a lot of weight from my pack, essentially ditching anything I hadn’t used since the first day. While I was at it, I upgraded my jacket and bought a belt. Sorry trail ladies, you will no longer be able to see half my ass as I walk. I’m sure you’re all disappointed.
After my gear changes, I grabbed a Powerade and hit the trail at 9:53am. I immediately questioned whether or not I was following the trail as I went 17 minutes without noticing a white blaze. They say of you go 1/4 mile without seeing one, you’re probably wrong. Luckily I kept going and within a minute a finally saw the little white stripe telling me I’m in the right place.
I hiked part of the morning with a guy I started the trail with six days ago. His name is Black-out (Matt) and we’ve talked about him at a couple shelters because of his story. When he arrived in Georgia last Monday, his pack did not arrive with him. Immediately, his mind went to the worst possible scenario – “my pack is gone.” He started hyperventilating and ended up blacking out, smashing his face against the counter at the Greyhound station.
Long story short, Greyhound somehow forgot to put his pack back on the bus at one of the pitstops but were able to get it to him by the end of the day. The black eye he got from smashing his face on the counter, that was just a bonus. For anyone thinking “so what? It’s just luggage,” imagine if you had $3,000 in the bank and had to live off it for six months. When you go to take money out, you’re told it’s not there. It’s gone. All of it. Now what do you do for six months? Even “cheap” gear can cost $2,000 or more. My gear is closer to $3,000 and some people spend as much as $4,000.
Anywho, after about an hour, Black-out stopped to rest and snack and I kept on pushing. I didn’t want to stop until my halfway point for today’s goal, right around mile six, which I reached around 1pm. I rested on a rock, took off my boots and socks, and sat there enjoying the quiet while eating a CLIF bar. Just as I was finishing, Black-out and another guy (“Chimney”) came chugging up the hill so we all walked together for awhile. Not too long after, a forth (“Too Loud”) joined our little train.
After about a mile, our train started splitting up and it ended up being me and Black-out walking the rest of the way to camp together. We arrived at 3:45pm and I had just enough time to set up my tent before the rain started. I’ve pretty much walked alone every day until today. It’s nice finding people that walk about the same pace. Tomorrow I’ll most likely be alone again, as I intend on doing 13 miles. And again the next day.
Today was the first day of hiking so far that, frankly, hasn’t sucked more than a cheap hooker on a Friday night. The new shoes and reduced pack weight has significantly improved my moral. That, or maybe it’s because I was able to get my ninja turtle recharge on with a delicious and nutritious pizza last night. It’s hard to tell.
I’m hoping tomorrow is a dry day.