i'm taking a zero today because i somehow hurt my right foot. i stepped on a rock right in the middle of my arch a few weeks ago and now it's hurting on top of my foot. i could hardly walk the other day and my foot's all swollen so i'm taking the day to overdose on vitamin i (ibuprofen), ice it, and rest it. zeroes make me so antsy sometimes, though, because i think to myself, "i should be out there hiking. i could be doing miles right now." except that right now, it's pouring down rain, so i'm glad i'm not out in it.
i thought from the beginning that i would hate the smokeys. turns out, i only hated the stuff south of clingman's dome. my first day in the smokeys included a 17 mile hike out of fontana dam. there were hardly any views after the shuckstack tower and i never, ever thought i'd make it to the shelter that i'd planned on making it to. that first day in the smokeys was the first day that i had to pull my cell phone out and listen to music to get me in a better mood. everything north of clingman's dome was absolutely amazing. i tried ordering pizza from the newfound gap parking lot, but they wouldn't deliver. :( what kind of pizza place doesn't deliver 15 miles out? shame on them, haha.
i would have run out of food in the smokeys had it not been for a group of three hikers from florida that we met. they gave me four of their nature's valley oats 'n' honey bars and that lasted me until i got to standing bear. i walked out of the smokeys and the only food i had on me was an empty nutella jar, a box of hashbrowns, and one packet of instant coffee. everything was just so expensive at fontana! i couldn't justify spending that much money on food, so i didn't. i bought the bare necessities, but i guess i didn't get enough. they wanted $4.57 for a box of pop tarts!! anyways... i won't run out of food again.
i completed the smokeys in four days exactly, then made it to standing bear farm to wait on my cousin and pick up my dog. my cousin, cecelia, from alabama drove in and picked up our group (minus one) and drove us all to trail days. in the three and a half years that i lived in bristol, i never went to trail days in damascus. i never knew it was a set weekend (the weekend after mother's day) and by the time it rolled around, i was always working. it was SO MUCH FUN. there were drum circles every night and we went to a bar that had karoke the first night we were in town. hahahah... there was the token drunk local that was trying to dance with everybody, so i entertained him and then so did cecelia. it was awesome. there were so many vendors there and i finally got a sno-cone! i've been wanting a sno-cone for over a year... no one in charleston had them! so i got a pineapple one and shared it with swayze. then the hiker parade was on saturday and it was basically a big, huge water fight between the hikers and the locals. nick drove jolie over, too, and we had an awesome little visit. oh!! ANDDD we got to eat at the AYCE (all you can eat) shoney's breakfast buffet! i'd been dreaming about THAT for a few weeks, too. fresh fruit and french toast and biscuits and hashbrowns... mmmmm. :) ANDDD we stopped by starbucks and i got to see roxanne and she made me the most delicious frappuccino that i'd been thinking about for days on end while i was hiking... i'd been thinking about a half strawberry, half orange mango creme sweetened with coconut instead of classic and made with breve instead of whole milk for the longest time.
just as a side note... i originally figured that my food cravings on the trail would be mainly junk food for the fat and calories, but it's been completely the opposite. i crave fresh fruit in the mornings (especially oranges) and i think about ceasar salad like there's no tomorrow.
anyways, after the trail days weekend, cecelia came back and hiked with us until hot springs. it was really crappy weather the entire time. :( it was cold and rainy and we all got soaked. i woke up in the shelter one morning and it hadn't quit raining the entire night, so after i put on my rain jacket to go use the tree, i just started packing up. i didn't want to dry off and get back in my sleeping bag and take a zero at the shelter in the rain, so swayze and i hiked nonstop from the shelter into hot springs, nc. it was an 18-mile day and we did it in 6 hours. i stopped once for water because i'd run dry, but if we stopped at all, we almost got hypothermic because it was so cold. i felt so bad for swayze but we made it into town and stayed at elmer's and got warm and dry and had good meals and met great people. i tell y'all what... the hiking community is amazing.
i took a zero the next day in hot springs because the weather was still crappy and it was my cousin's last day in town. we went to the... well... the hot springs... that the town is famous for and spent an hour just hanging out in a hot tub. just what the hiker doctor ordered. :) i went to the post office and picked up a package that my friend aj had said would be waiting on me. it made me so happy to open a box and realize that i haven't been forgotten by the "real" world. i love hiking and i love the people that i've met, but i almost feel disconnected from my friends and family members because my cell phone is a piece of crap and doesn't work and i haven't gotten internet access nearly as often as i thought i would when i first started out. anyway... the salt 'n' vinegar chips and m&ms hit the spot, and the toilet paper made me giggle. :) and swayze loved her treats as well.
i also bit the bullet and bought a new pack in hot springs. the coleman pack that i got just didn't cut it. it was functional but not practical. it'd be alright for a weekend pack, but when you wear something for days on end, you want it to be comfortable, and it was killing my shoulders and was off balance. i love my new pack so much.
thank God i'm not on the trail right now... it was hailing here just now.
i guess i'll try and upload some pictures and see where that gets me. the shuttle leaves for the AYCE pizza & salad buffet in two hours and i'm not ABOUT to miss that. :) also, i am going to work on a finalized mail drop plan for the first half of the trip (up until harper's ferry, wv) today. it's just been really hard between not having any internet connection and not knowing my hiking pace and not having a cell phone to really update anything at all.
i miss y'all and love y'all a ton. keep the prayers comin' and i'll see y'all soon enough. :)