I hiked 2 miles further than I had initially intended today.  While I need to average about 15 miles a day, you usually hike in a bell curve with low miles while you're new, high miles in the middle, and low miles at the end when the terrain is much harder. There is a 5 mile section tomorrow that requires a bear canister in order to be able to camp there.  Since this is the only section requiring a bear canister on the entire 2,189 miles of the AT, I didn't bring one.  My initial plan was to finish today 8 miles before the bear canister section and do 13 miles tomorrow to hike through it.  Toward the end of the day I met a few other thru hikers and hiked with them for a while.  Some of them stayed at Gooch Gap, but Tom and I pressed on.  I decided to hike further than I planned so we could camp near water, and he cut his day about 4 miles short.  He was fine when we got here.  I on the other hand am shot.  That last two miles took it out of me.  I've been having some pain in my left knee and foot.  I rubbed some amazing mentholated ointment my friend Cheryl gave me (thanks again) on it earlier in the day, but it had worn off by then.  Yesterday it was my right side with problems. Iā€™m thinking I need to realign my food bag so it sits horizontally and the weight sits more evenly. 

This morning started with some light rain, but overall the hiking was good.  It was cloudy all day, but the weather was nice and overall enjoyable.  Not much in the way of scenery, but I did come across an old cemetery.  Almost all of the headstones were blank rocks stuck in the ground, so it is hard to tell how old it is exactly.

The learning curve is definitely in full effect. In addition to over hiking today, I poked a hole in my hiking shirt yesterday (my only one) and realized I forgot my sewing kit. I almost lost my trowel this morning.  I made a blunder with my bear bag and had to sacrifice some of my line to the trail. And I lost one of my gloves.  I really liked those gloves, but I'm going to have to buy whatever the next outfitter in a couple of days has.  On extended weekend trips these things don't matter, because you're home soon and can easily replace things.  I'll need to remember to me much more careful.

Tonight and tomorrow promise serious rain, so that should be interesting.  I intend to sleep in and recover and take the hiking easier tomorrow.