Miles Today: 10.8

Mile Marker: 31.4 Neel Gap (technically Blairsville)

After overshooting yesterday, I am moving slowly today.  I likely started out of the gate too fast as a whole. I'm still feeling some overuse injuries in my left knee and ankle despite redistributing pack weight.  I'll try giving my ankle more wiggle room tomorrow to see if that helps.  I've been hiking in trail runners lately, but I started the AT in insulated boots due to concerns with colder weather.  I'm thinking having the extra ankle support may be transferring some of the lateral force to my ankle instead.

The hiking today was suboptimal.  I am still thoroughly enjoying being out here, but today wasn't particularly a highlight.  It rained all day.  Half the day was heavy rain and the other half was obnoxious drizzle that was just constant.  In addition to the rain it was foggy all day.  Some of the fog was actually beautiful; like hiking in the clouds.  However the view from Blood Mountain was shot.  It was the first spot of the trip that holds amazing panoramic views.  Unfortunately I didn't get to see them. So no pictures for the day.

I ended the day at Neel Gap.  It is the only section of the AT to run through a building.  It runs through Mountain Crossings outfitter where NOBOs get their notorious pack shakedowns.  I walked in looking bedraggled and defeated.  The lady working there asked if I needed help with anything, to which I responded with a blank stare.  I wanted a soda, but the words weren't forming correctly. She followed up with “Or with life in general”.  I said yeah, that second one.  She gave me the rundown on the food, drinks, and lodging situation.  My intent was to hike another two miles to get to the backside of the next mountain and avoid some of tonight's wind gusts, but she made staying indoors sound so promising.  After looking for suitable glove replacements, a Mr. Pibb (Coca Cola owns Georgia), and an amazing sandwich which in any other setting would have been bland I decided to get a cheap motel room.  She found open motels and gave me directions on where to go and set me up with numbers to get a ride back in the morning.

I stood out front in the driving wind and rain unsuccessfully trying to hitchhike for about 10 minutes. I headed back to the store to dig out an insulating layer before trying again, but as luck would have it someone was already taking their son in to town. They let two nice ladies and my mopey mug cram into the back seat, and shuttled us 15 miles into town.  I got a cheap motel, a needed shower, laundry, and a large supreme pizza, and a DR PEPPER.  Things are looking up.

It is supposed to rain all night tonight, which will make for swampy hiking. However tomorrow through Friday should have sunnier weather.  Hopefully after some rest in a real bed I will be good to go tomorrow.