Mile: 273.7 - 301.7 (28 miles)
I'm up early, all packed and ready to go before I stick my head out the door. And of course it's raining, again. I'm thinking I was not meant to leave this town dry. I stall a bit drinking coffee and eating breakfast happily.
But enough is enough and I'm restless, anxious but restless. I've spent countless miles solo but today is my first real alone day on the AT. It feels like the first day of school, what if no one likes me? Will I be alone this whole thing? And just a general holy cow 2000 miles of who knows what. I'm a worrier and hiking gives you more than enough time to think, and of course overthink. Yay?
I finally head out of town, the river is raging and for a short bit the trail follows along. I can see why rafters play on the French Broad, it looks fun. The climb is muggy and my pack always feels ridiculously heavy after time off. But morning is so pretty, with so much green and misty views. Just 2-3 weeks ago there was a pretty significant fire out here that had the trail closed, and now I can see why. Small burnt areas dot the first few hours of hiking.
I've always been told the trail provides, I'll admit I was thinking more along the lines of a soda this morning. Instead I end up talking to a substitute teacher from California who just started yesterday and was excited but overwhelmed. It hit just the right note for the morning and had me smiling until lunch.
It's quiet today, I know there are a ton of people out here but I only see a handful today. It's really just the birds and the smell of wet forest.
And yes that is a turtle sitting in the middle of the trail
It doesn't look like much but there were a whole lot of sections like this, sneaky scary muddy slip and slides just waiting to catch you unawares.
Unfortunately I'm on a bit of an emotional roller coaster and instead of circling to much I spend the second half of the afternoon listening to podcasts. I hide from rain in a shelter and mosey up and down climbs.
I'm tempted to stay at a shelter, I get there around when I usually stop but I'm just not a fan. It's a lot of extra noise and it's always more popular with the mice and bears. I continue on passing a beautiful unexpected bald and finally just make a spot work. It's still drizzling on and off but sunset is gorgeous and I'm more than happy to sleep.
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