Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Johns Hollow Shelter to Browns Mountain Creek Shelter

Monday, 5/18

AT Miles = 18.3 / 795.3
Other Miles = 0.4 / 30.9
Total Miles = 18.7 / 826.2

So, kind of a mixed day. Today is the two month anniversary of the day I started my hike; that's certainly a high point. But there were other, both high and low, points to the day.

Yesterday afternoon I met an older hiker named One Stick at the shelter 4 miles south of where we both eventually ended up for the night. One Stick was in pain. He had been having problems with his leg for many days, and by last night his leg was swollen from his knee clear down to his ankle.

This morning while I was getting ready to eat breakfast One Stick was leaving camp, and he told me he was hiking back (thru-hikers never, ever, hike back) to the road to hitch into Glasgow and wait for his wife to drive down and bring him home. One Stick was very emotional and working hard to hold back the tears. It was hard talking to him. On a selfish level, being forced to get off the trail due to an injury is in the back of every hiker's mind, and I felt almost like I wanted to stay away from him so I wouldn't "catch" it. So yeah, I am a creep.

Later on in the morning I met Foot Note as he was hiking soiuth and I was hiking north. He was radiating contentment and satisfaction, and he told me he was within 50 miles of finishing his flip-flop thru-hike. After chatting for a few minutes I congratulated him and shook his hand.

So, I was planning an easy 9 mile day today. I slept late, took my time eating and breaking camp, and even washed a pair of socks so I will have clean, dry socks to hike in tomorrow. It was almost 9:00 when I left camp. The weather today was perfect, cool, dry, and sunny, and the trail was both easy hiking and interesting, offering views back to the James River and out over the surrounding mountains. I found myself at my planned ending point at 1:00, and it was just too nice a day not to keep hiking, so I continued on to the next shelter. My right knee is still a bit tender from yesterday, but it felt okay hiking and my feet are better than they were yesterday.

Oh, I blew out the side of one of my boots. I was hoping they would last a few hundred more miles. Jodi, I hope you're reading this. Bring my other pair of boots when you come down!

Allen Freeman

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