Saturday, May 28, 2016

Day 33: goodbye ponies

5/23: 0.1 before GHSP - a ridge line campsite
Mile: 499.5 - 528.9 (29.4 miles)

It rains a little more but not with the same ferocity and by 2 am I can see stars. Its cold, but 42 degrees thankfully means no frost. It was definitely a slow start.

My feet are wet almost instantly and getting going is slow today. I'm constantly stopping to adjust shoes, layers and find snacks. But I also feel no rush and am enjoying all my little breaks.

Whoops, guess approaching the ponies was a no, no. But at least I why they're here.

There are no morning ponies now that I'm officially in Grayson Highlands State Park where I figured they would be. Leaving state park lines I pass a shelter, throngs of tents and my last pony. I'm cold and grinning, completely loving this trail.

Have I mentioned recently how much I love the millions of bridges? Muddy puddle wet feet are a given, but no stream crossings is pretty great.

Back in Damascus I'd had a long talk with Furiosa (one of the nurses) about her feeling like the trail was a highway and never being able to hike alone. Maybe it's speed or just luck but I feel like I pass people camped and snacking but rarely end up hiking with anyone. The people can be overwhelming but so far I've had pretty good luck at creating space when I need it. I'm starting to enter the so called bigger bubble of hikers that started earlier in March and the crowds are coming out of the woodwork.

Looking back as I climb it looks beautiful but it's still really cold. The sun wasn't quite cutting it and it was cold enough for a jacket for hours.

A surprising herd of Longhorns who also apparently like the trail.

Then it was back into the green off the ridge.

It's so gloriously green I'm loving it. It's long descents and the feel of easy soft trail.

Comer Falls is pretty and I'm really enjoying the afternoon.

The mountain laurels are everywhere and the trail winds up and through more ridges and across more roads. I see Funsize but pretty much no one else and it's a nice peaceful evening.

Drier forest interspersed with jungle all day, it's crazy how much it can change mile to mile.

There are even some pretty meadows to help round out the day.

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