Miles Today: 11.8
Mile Marker: 81.1 Muskrat Creek
If I'm going to finish this thing I can't hide in town forever. We got our first snow last night, and I was able to sleep soundly through it on my box spring covered in parchment paper in town. Super helpful staff there, but when you're trying to escape sleeping outside on the ground as cheaply as possible, you don't exactly land at the Ritz. You also don't particularly care. For the last two days that place was my palace.
My intent was to catch the 9:00 shuttle this morning and get started around 9:30. Around 8:30 that plan changed to catching the 11:00 shuttle. Ultimately I hit the trail at noon. No regrets.
The hiking was sloppy all day. Everything was beginning to thaw and the water was using the trail as a gutter. One big mudslide all day long. Along with the thaw also came large chunks of snow plopping down on my head every so often. The woods tried to engage me in a snowball fight all day, but I stayed focus. I stopped for lunch at a shelter 0.20 miles off the trail and ran into the guys from Greenville who ran after the trail magic with me. After being dry for a bit and inhaling some food I headed out. It was a great idea at the time, but by the end of the day I wanted that 0.40 miles back. I strolled into camp around 6:30 and caught up with the rest of the group who zeroed in town yesterday. The weather is going to be cold and wet through Tuesday. Wednesday is supposed to get down into the single digits. None of us are excited. We will all likely be racing each other to town to secure a spot to sleep on Wednesday.
The highlight of the day was hitting the North Carolina border. First two goals met. I have been focused on clearing the first week and then clearing the first state. Today we said goodbye to Georgia and a bit of our fear about this whole endeavor. I'm starting to feel a little more identity as a thru hiker. Many, many, many more miles and challenges to face, but I feel like I'm off to a good start.