AT Miles = 21.6 / 436.9
Other Miles = 1.0 / 20.1
Total Miles = 22.6 / 457.0
Today was mostly just about making miles. It's called "the post office marathon" on the trail, which is when you have to hike crazy miles in order to get to a town before the post office closes for the weekend. In my case, I am trying to get to Damascus before 4:30 on Friday afternoon. My bounce box is waiting in the PO there, and so is a package Jodi sent that contains a second battery for my phone, and more importanbtly, some home-made cookies. Yum!
I woke up a few minutes after 5:00 this morning and used the hostel kitchen to boil water so I could have some oatmeal. Then I packed up my gear and hit the trail, with my headlamp on, sometime before six; I'm guessing about 5:45.
The side trail thast brought me back to the AT is mostly along an old road, so it was fairly easy to follow it even with my weak little LED head-lamp. When I turned off onto the AT and started climbing switchbacks up to Pond Flats it was a little challenging, but it soon started to get light.
By the time I got down to the road, 7 miles into my hike but less than 2 1/2 road miles from where I slept last night, it was about 8:30, the sun was getting warm, and it was nice and calm down by Watauga Lake. I stripped off most of my warm clothes and enjoyed the trail around the end of the lake and eventually across the dam. Then the trail started climbving and I was very warm until I got up on the ridge and the north wind got me in its sights. After this it got colder and colder.
I got here about 3:00PM, amazingly. I'm quite tired, but tomorrow will be a more sane day of less than 16 miles. Someone that was here last night wrote in the shelter register that there was snow this morning. It's still darn cold, and I have been adding more and more layers of clothes since I stopped. I think it will be early to bed tonight just to stay warm. Surprisingl;y, the weather forecast I saw last night says we should be hitting the 70s and 80s by the end of the week. Go figure!