Well here I am at Neels Gap on Day 4. I've been writing a lot everyday and I'll do my best to sum up what feels like has already been an adventure. There has been something to contend with every day so far. Day 1 I started after 1 pm from the base of the falls at Amicalola State Park. It was over 80 degrees and the climb was ridiculously hard. I started cramping up in both thighs a couple miles in and they would tighten up every couple hundred feet for the rest of the day. I ended up going 7.3 miles on the 8.8 mile approach trail and called it a night at Black Gap Shelter. I drank as much water as I could, fearful of cramping the next day. I spent the night with a 300 pound kid from Ohio, named Justin, who was thru-hiking as well.
I woke up early on Sunday and hiked the 1.5 miles up to the official start on Springer. I was able to get texts out and even able to get Pauline on the phone. It lifted my spirits tremendously to be able to talk to her. I was on cloud 9. I left Springer with an easy 4.5 miles down hill and I flew through it. I was ecstatic. I ended up passing Justin and haven't seen him since. I went about 13.9 miles for the day, 12.4 on the offical AT, and camped on top of Justus Mtn. I was feeling good about my day and happy to be testing out my Tarptent. I hadn't really slept the first night, so I was exhausted and fell asleep fairly easily. I woke up at about 4:30am with it raining! My Tarptent was keeping me dry. Huge relief. I hit the trail on Day 3 early, before the sun had come up. Hiking in the pitch black with just my headlamp was scary; each little noise made me think there was an animal nearby. I could have sworn I hear a bear growl. My mind was playing tricks.
Day 3 went great, and I caught up to a huge group of thru-hikers that had stayed at the shelter a few miles ahead. I was treated to my first bit of trail magic at Woody Gap, when a dad of another thru-hiker brought us iced cold cokes and candy bars. Heaven in my mouth. I ended up going about 15 miles for the day and camped with the rest of the crew at Slaughter Creek, just before Blood Mtn.
Here I am on Day 4, happy as can be. I got 3 burgers for free and showered and did laundry and resupplied for the next 3 or 4 days. I'm happy to be with a group and were talking about going a few miles further today and camping somewhere beyond Neels. Charging up the phone now and bought some Body Glide for the chafing in between my legs. Life is fantastic.
Keep the texts and calls and comments coming! Its so great to hear from yall.