May 10th 2018
Hawk mountain shelter to Lance creek (mile 23.8)
15.7 miles
Total miles: 32.6

I was asleep by about 9:10. I was absolutely shattered. I woke up several times in the night because I could hear things scurrying around my tent. Mice. Please don’t chew through my new tent. I shone my torch out there but I couldn’t see anything. I thought I woke up a lot throughout the night but when I woke up I saw bits of leaf and stuff on the top of my tent inner, the mice were having a party on the top of my tent while I was asleep.

There were also some people talking about a loud noise last night which I was to find out was a tree falling in the camp area. Slept right through that too!

I turned my phone on to see if I had any cell service. The last time I contacted my parents was to tell them about the cellar in my trail angels house. I didn’t tell them I was starting the trail because there was no service at Amicalola falls. Plus, they already knew, but of course that didn’t stop them panicking that I was trapped in the cellar still, with messages asking if I was ok followed by an excess of question marks and some missed calls. I really much teach them how to use whatsapp properly.

I let myself wake up naturally which turned out to be about 6:30am, a nice change from 5am. My body was sore, but not as sore as I was expecting it to be. By the time I stumbled out of my tent I saw that pretty much everyone had already left. I went to the outhouse and noticed that my heels – the Achilles area – was pretty painful. Not good I thought. My knees were also really painful so I decided to clean my legs with a moist toilet wipe and apply some KT tape. Most of the people I met had planned to go about 7 miles today so I knew I’d catch up to them all at some point.

I got going just after 8. The KT tape on my right knee lasted about 2 minutes. I think my leg sweat was pushing it off. Or it could be that it was tape left over from 2016 and it has been floating around in my bags for about 18 months. The tape on the left knee just about managed to hang on, which worked out for the best because my left knee is much more painful. My right knee didn’t hurt at all today, but the left one was really causing me problems, especially on the downhill.

I caught up with various people throughout the morning. The big, not very chatty, man with a big pack. Why do people with big packs have a bunch of stuff strapped to the outside of their packs? Really you shouldn’t be strapping anything to the outside. I think you can have 2 exceptions. Your waterproof coat so it’s easy access. And crisps (aka chips). Crisps need looking after and strapping them to the outside means they won’t get squashed. But if you don’t have room for your tent or your sleeping bag in that massive pack you’re carrying then you’re carrying too much stuff.

I saw the two girls, one from North Carolina and one from New Hampshire, who said she would give me a ride to Boston if we finished at the same time. Unfortunately I think that’s unlikely.

It was super hot and humid today, and the climbs were steep but fairly short. There was less elevation gain than yesterday.

I made sure I took more breaks today and I drank more. Annoyingly my sawyer is being really slow. I think I need to backflush it and I hope that will sort it out because I’m exhausted by the time I’ve squeezed a litre.

I crossed paths with lots of different people today. The only people I have met have been American so far. And they all think I’m Australian. I really don’t sound Australian. The boys carrying the external frame packs were really sweet. And there were two guys I spoke to quite a lot. They took my picture at one of the view points. All of these people are just doing small sections though so I won’t ever see them again. I have this weird feeling that I’m not going to find anyone to hike with. Most people are going slower than me, and the ones that are going faster are going faster than me, so I’m not sure I’ll find anyone. We’ll see.

There were some beautiful flowers on the trail today, the amazing orange ones gave a nice break from the green tunnel.

We all gathered around the water source and a cute dog came along and just jumped right in and drank straight from the creek, it was so hot I wished I could have done that too. But this is also why I always filter my water. The two nice guys had packed out subways. I was really envious of that.

I spent the rest of the afternoon leapfrogging with people until we got to Woody’s gap. I met a guy called No Rush who was lounging about in the middle of the trail clearly in no rush. He had no teeth and he was from Boston. He was telling me how he had died 7 times and how he used to be addicted to drugs so he now won’t even take a Tylenol (like paracetamol I think). Now he only smokes weed. He didn’t need to tell me that. I could smell it. The smell was so overpowering it was making me feel a bit sick.

I was rescued by the arrival of one of the young boys, I didn’t find out his name, the other two are Aiden and Henry, and I shall just refer to them as the Brothers, because that’s what they call themselves. He happily sat with No Rush so he didn’t have to smoke alone. I was under strict instruction to not tell the brothers. I asked for a photo before I went on my way and No Rush said sure let me put my teeth in first though and he took his teeth out of his pocket. I left them chatting about magic mushrooms. Really not my thing but it doesn’t bother me in the slightest of other people want to trip themselves out.

I stopped to fill up my water and when I saw the empty side pocket that I had taken my water bottles out of I panicked and my heart plunged through my bottom because I thought my tent poles had fallen out. They were of course in the other pocket.

There were some beautiful views this afternoon and I really slowed down as I lingered at each one, and there was finally some decent cell service so I could let home know I wasn’t trapped in a cellar. I walked for a tiny bit with a brother and sister, and when I got to Woody’s gap that was where they were finishing their hike. Slovakia Steph was really sweet and offered me water and food as her hike was over. I took the water but I really don’t need any more food yet. At woodys gap there was a trash can. Yes. A toilet. Yes. And a picnic table. Yes. There were also a bunch of hikers trying (not very hard) to get a ride to town. Having only been on the trail for two days I don’t need to go to town yet.

I sat with Slovakia for a while and she’s the first one to recognise that I am English. I like Steph. She also said I sound posh. I really like Steph. One of her favourite tv shows is the good life and they are all very well spoken so that’s probably where she gets her reference from!

The weather had cooled off and it looked like it might rain so I eventually got going again. My knees had felt really quite good this afternoon and the KT tape on my left knee was now hanging off. As I hailed uphill I caught up to Tom or Big Acorn who had a massive pack. And he must be retirement age because he was talking about her daughter and her PhD. He said he had wanted to do the trail as a young lad, but like with so many people life got in the way.

He couldn’t keep up with me (in no way a brag) and I went off ahead. There was an awesome view at the top of the climb. The best one of the day. Accompanied by a huge rumble of thunder. It went downhill from there in more ways than one. It was literally downhill, which really made my left knee hurt, and it started raining, plus thunder and lightening. Lightly at first which was fine and then it really came down hard. I put my rain coat on but it is absolute crap. It is not waterproof anymore. Plus it was still really humid so i was sweating inside. I wished I had an umbrella. I think I will look for one at the outfitters tomorrow.

I practically ran the last 1.8 miles. I just wanted to get my tent up and get inside. I came across the brothers in the tank tops shivering under a bush! And some other boys with a tarp so I asked if I could shelter there for a moment. They said the rain was only supposed to last and hour. I left my bag and went to look for a tent spot, and I put my tent up in the heaviest part of the rain. I tried to fast pitch it but it all seemed to be going wrong and I was left with big puddle on the ground sheet and mud everywhere. But at least I managed to keep the inside dry. I was soaked. My shorts were really wet and my top was damp. It was so nice to get into my dry sleep clothes. I didn’t think I was that hungry but all of a sudden I was starving so I made the mountain house beef stew and surprised myself by eating the whole thing. I’m not cold but I’ve got my hat and vest on because they are comforting.

There is currently a debate outside my tent as to whether you should put your dirty toilet paper into your food bag and hang that. Gross. And they are now discussing whether you should put your ibuprofen in there and your bug spray. Seriously people. What about the bug spray you’ve sprayed on yourself? You think that doesn’t smell. And you smell. What are you going to do about that?! Tonight I’m sleeping with my food. There are tonnes of people here. I really doubt a bear will come round with all these tents. Plus bears don’t like the rain remember!

On the way out the tent for a wee I met a couple more they hikers. One guy who was in his tent, all nice and dry when I ran through in the rain. He checked to make sure I was ok which was nice. He is hiking with his fiancé Jessica but I can’t remember his name. I also met autumn who was really funny. She has never had a wilderness poo and she is definitely overthinking it. I had a discussion with her about whether to dig a hole first or second.

She has taken 4 days to reach here which is totally ok, but she doesn’t like all the people, like me, who are hiking quicker than her. She says she wants to throat punch them. We suggested this should be her trail name but she wasn’t too keen!

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