The Days Run Together

It's been a blur. Where do I start? Every morning I wake up and smell the forest (and probably myself as well) and hear the birds chirping and sometimes even catch a peach and lavender colored sunrise over a distant hill. I used to have sinus headaches nearly every day and I would cough up sinus gunk after eating a meal but since starting the AT I haven't had any sinus issues at all and I can't begin to describe how wonderful that is.

I've found a group of friends to hike with and by now we're practically a family (pardon me while I wipe away this tear). We call ourselves The Misfits because we're an odd bunch to be so close. Bulldog joined our group and then recently we added Safety and Sweet Tooth as well so now we're a group of 10. We spread out during the day but always meet up at shelters or campsites in the evenings to spend time together. We even carried fresh veggies, beef, chips and salsa, and tortillas up a mountain just so we could cook tacos and roasted vegetables together. We are what other hikers might call "posh" or "crazy" but I think we're awesome.

I've added another pound of cold weather gear to my kit to make it through the snowy Smokies. Hikers ahead of us have been sending back photos with a lot of snow so we are all bracing for it. I now have two thermal pads to keep me insulated from the ground and an extra top sheet to help keep me warm. I also picked up a few plastic grocery bags to put on my feet to help keep my socks dry for as long as possible. They'll get wet eventually but this will help.

So far, life on the AT has been difficult beyond difficult with pain, cold, hunger, sunburn, and a lot of sore muscles but it has also been the most incredibly rewarding experience I've ever been a part of. The people, the views, the sense of accomplishment after climbing some gnarly mountain, and even the peaceful serenity of 7 people snoring in a shelter together are all worth it.

I am Free.

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