Date- March 6, 2020
Location- Side of trail
Elevation- 725 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 24.6 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 213.4 miles
Weather/Temp- clear, 50s, windy
Pain level- Zero
Wildlife encounters- Dogs
Days without shower- 1
Days without laundry- 4
Today was a long exhausting day. I forgot to mention, that since crossing into Georgia I’ve been on Eastern standard time. So I’m an hour ahead of where I have been.
So, when we began hiking at 7:10 this morning, it was more like getting up and hiking at 6 am (due to the time change). Therefore, it was technically our earliest start. After a quick goodbye to our friends at Southern Flavor, we were on our way. Less than five miles down the road a woman pulled over and gave me 20 bucks while telling me to, “Have a meal on her.” The trail provides!
It was cold and windy most of the day – but the skies were clear, and the sun made up for it. The day was entirely uneventful. There were a few dogs who started to approach us, but nothing ever came of it. By 2:30 pm, we had 18 miles racked up and my neck and shoulders were killing me from the nonstop extra weight of Katana.
At the 16 mile mark we hit a Dollar General where I resupplied for the next 80 miles. Two more miles after that, we stopped at a gas station with a small short-order restaurant attached. The Indian gas attendant recognized Katana and I from the newspaper article the other day. He was curious to hear of our other travels. The woman working the short order restaurant was also interested. She even invited Katana to come in while I waited on my food order.
All in all, I spent an hour and a half at the gas station talking to the friendly woman. We talked about her life and my life. We both tried to relate or empathize with each other’s life experiences throughout our conversation. That’s what you do when engaging in lengthy interactions with perfect strangers. It was a wonderful reprieve from the unforgiving asphalt, so I found it hard to peel myself up and continue on.
I Hear the Train A-Comin
After another 2.5 miles of quiet road walking we finally left the road and turned onto an old railroad bed. All in all, the asphalt was only 21 miles. It looks as though the rail bed stretches a further 12 miles or so, and is far more forgiving.
Katana got to knock out a strong 3 miles on the rail bed, as we meandered into the evening without so much as a care in the world. Now that we were off the roads, I didn’t care how much further we went. I trotted through a tunnel of trees until there was half an hour of daylight left. Then, marched up the side of a hill and found two trees to hang my hammock.
Hammocking the Rest
I was mistaken about the thought that there would be shelters for the entire trail. As it turns out, I don’t think there’s another one for the rest of the trail. So it’s hardcore real camping from here on out! We have 75 miles until the next town of Dalton, then 70 miles to the end of the trail.
I’m on the fence about continuing on to Springer Mountain. It really depends on what the weather looks like when we finish this one. My knees and ankles have taken a beating on this hike, and ache more throughout the day than they have in years. This is from the extra weight of Katana and tougher terrain than anticipated. The walking/hiking mechanics of carrying a dog over varied terrain is deff not healthy. I’ve carried her further out here so far than I ever did on the entire AT. My total weight on the AT with her on my pack was 70+ pounds. Granted, I never carried her that far on the AT. It was always just for short spurts. Circumstances change things…
Planning the Finish
I’d really like to average over 20 miles per day for the rest of the hiking days out here. Maybe one or two more zeroes in Dalton, depending on weather; then sprint to the finish!