I'm sitting in a glorious hotel bed at the Holiday Inn Express in Hiawassee, GA with Pauline next to me. It's the end of my first zero day on the trail (no hiking), and it was one of the better days I can remember. The trail has this really amazing way of making you appreciate everything; a cold drink becomes heavenly, a shower makes you feel like a million bucks, and every second spent with your girlfriend or talking to family members really matters and is cherished.
I hiked an extra 3.5 miles than my clan had planned to do, and hitched a ride into Hiawassee last night. I stayed at the Hiawassee Inn, an incredibly seedy, absolutely wonderful room with a shower and a television and a mirror to smile real big into. It was awesome. I didn't know what to do first. I paced the room and turned on the bathroom light - should I take a shower? I crossed back and threw my pack on the bed and turned the tv on. And then I ripped out my phone and called Pauline and my parents. It was sensory overload after only being in the woods for 6 nights. I had a great night - piggin out on Subway and drinking soda after soda, watching basketball and talking on the phone. It was all a rush of civilization to the head and I couldn't wait to wake up to spend the day with Pauline.
After yesterday's 13 miles, I have now hiked 67.5 total miles and I have less than 9 miles left to do in Georgia. I met up with a group on my 3rd day and have stayed pretty consistently right with them. There's a Sri Lankan named Denham, a British fellow who goes by the trail name "Mayo", a frat kid from Illinois named Adam, an enthusiatic 19 year-old named Ben, and we recently met up with the tattooed Blue Eyes, and Sweet Pea. It's been great to travel with a group and the sense of community out here is everything I hoped it would be. The mileage is becoming easier as the terrain is becoming more difficult. I have developed a real steady, comfortable pace, and can I feel myself getting stronger. My knees have been sore but I think it's going to be that way for a little while at least, and I'm okay with that.
It's storming pretty bad out there and I hope that it clears up before I have to head back out tomorrow. It feels like a restart almost, and I hope that my body appreciated the rest. I should be getting into Franklin, NC Wed. or Thurs. of this week. See yall up the trail!