Day 5 was a solid all around day. I leisurely rolled out of bed around 8am. I had my first cat hole poop experience which I enjoyed probably more than I care to admit. Although it’s definitely not as convenient as using a privy. And It’s also an anxiety-ridden event; needing to dig a hole AND have it completed BEFORE needing to use it, all the while actively needing to use it. Probably not the first thing you wanted to read in this update, equally not what I wanted to experience at 8am. That said, my inner 5-year-old self enjoyed the experience very much.
After taking my time packing up and eating, I got on the trail around 9:45. My feet felt decent after their cold plunge the night prior so I started the day in Chacos sandals to mix things up. It was a quick 0.7 miles to the first peak of the day where I found cell service. I spent 45 minutes social media-ing and just about everyone from camp passed my by. Even Thomas, Minute Man and Scrub caught up to me and it was nice to see their faces.
Just as I finished up, Gavin arrived at the first peak and I ended up hiking the whole day with him. We talked a bunch and have a ton in common, he’s good people. It was a slow and steady 10.3 mile day. Lots of ups and downs but nothing too crazy.
At one point, I ran across a lone pair of hiking shoes. The first thought that popped into my head was “Mama said they was my Trail Magic Shoes, Mama said they’d take me anywhere”. It must have been a foreshadowing omen because…., I got my first Trail Magic today!
2 times actually, the first at the bottom of Tesnatee Gap. A car stopped by the road where we were getting water. I thought to myself “could it be? Is this it? Trail Magic?” It was! A gentleman gave us some of, quite possibly, the best tasting mandarins I’ve ever had. The up and down to Hogpen Gap brought us more Trail Magic and our favorite Park Ranger Chelsea. We exchanged jokes again. Mine went as follows:
“When we were kids back in the day, at recess time on the playground we used to rough-house a lot. We would be low key aggressive with each other would give each other Indian burns, y’all remember Indian burns? It was like elementary school torture treatment. Basically you’d grab somebody’s arm with both hands and then twist your hands in opposite directions on their skin… Just like the Indians did back in frontier days!… I’m assuming there was historical significance to it. You can’t do that anymore these days though. Not just because it’s assault… and battery. But because you’ll get cancelled nowadays. it’s politically incorrect…. They’re Native American burns now… Or indigenous peoples burns.”
Laughs from the audience were had, believe it or not.
We continued on and at a break we met a 76 year old thru-hiker named “Grits”. He informed us “it’s not just a food, it’s a lifestyle!” This is his second thru-hike of the AT and he also hiked the Florida Trail earlier this year! He was truly an inspirational character. I could only hope to have half his energy at his age.
Random thought of the day: the animal that most resembles a thru-hiker with trekking poles is the Praying Mantis.
We finally made it into camp around 5pm. We found Merick (now dubbed “Gandolf” because he happened upon a staff, also because he’s tall and has a beard) and few others from the night before. After my 3rd freeze-dried meal of the day (thanks Ashley) and another cold soak of my feet in the stream I retired for the night at 8:30pm. I’m hoping 1/4 of a muscle relaxer might help with more uninterrupted sleep tonight.
Stow away in my pack and stay tuned for how that turns out on Day 6 of the AT.
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