Friday, Sept. 2
Tripped over a root one-quarter of a mile in and fell on left knee. Hurt bad. Stayed on ass for cigarette/water break. Lunch at Stover Creek Shelter 1.5 miles in. Apple, cheese, dried fruit, Ritz, ham, tuna. Peed in woods. At shelter, someone left behind tablets of water purifier, a pot, a pacifier and a lost dog sign. Yellow lab named Bailey. Lost in July. Last seen on Springer Mountain summit. For next time: knee pads and Ben Gay.
Later that day
Made it the five miles to Hawk Mountain Shelter. It's amazing the energy a well-timed granola bar or two can give you. The incline had us stopping every few minutes to catch our breaths. At one point, I was on the ground internally bargaining for a reprieve. Charlene is filling the platypus with water. I'm decompressing. Three aspirin, tons of cigarettes, the rest of my two liters of water. Then, I will be centered. Turkey tetrazzini for dinner. Yum! This shelter has a loft. This is all I crave.
Saturday, Sept. 3
Survived my FIRST NIGHT EVER in the woods. By 9 p.m., sun down. Scared. Staring into the darkness. Fatigue overcame, and I tried for sleep. Woke up at every crack, creak and rustle. Sat up nervously clutching my knife, and, twice, clutching Charlene to wake her up with "there's something out there" and "I heard a noise." Yesterday, no sign of any mammal. Just bees, gnats, flies, butterflies, daddy longlegs and a weird bug that didn't run or fly when prodded. Body efficient. Didn't take much food yesterday to be satisfied. Only peed once though drank at least two liters of water. 4 a.m. Waking up Charlene for the third time. Praying for 6 a.m. and the promise of sunlight. It was 4. 6:30 a.m. Sun coming up. Fear dissipating. Heard mice. Saw a chipmunk this morning. No birds yet. Hear planes. Helicopters. Shit and peed in the privvy. Helped Char get water from stream. Breakfast of freeze-dried scrambled eggs with salt, strong black tea (no sugar) and brown sugar oatmeal. Handful of dried fruit. 7.5 miles to Springer. It's a beautiful day.
Sunday, Sept. 4
Hiked about 9 miles from Hawk Mountain Shelter to Springer Mountain Shelter including a stop at a waterfall for lunch. Passed lots of people on trail - most doing day or short hikes. Met two lesbians at Hawk Mountain on their way to Springer. One had been doing the trail in sections for 15 years and was completing the last eight miles to Springer, the southern terminus. The trek back, though longer, was not as rough. Shoulders and back noticeably stronger. More sure footed. Never fell. Never even stumbled. Got to Springer Shelter after a .9-mile climb that was up, up, up and rocky. Not expecting that. The .9 felt like 5.9. A man and his very talkative boy were eating dinner (mashed potatoes and ramen) and the lesbians were packing up dinner while we heated our water for freeze-dried lasagna. Dinner was good. Sat up til 12:30 with Peter and his dog, Mickey, after building a confessional fire. Talked about books, relationships, meeting people and breakups. He's post-dumped from a long-distance relationship with what sounds like an immature woman who manipulated him and then dumped him for another guy - did it in a way to con him into still being her "friend." He sent her a letter putting her in her place. Hasn't heard from her since. He's sweet, smart and cute. He'll have no problems meeting someone else who is fantastic. Ready for breakfast and a water run. Today we go to Springer summit, back to Dahlonega. Springer shelter is known for its bears, and we hung our food last night. Char and I slept in the loft. Peter and Mickey slept on the ground floor. I felt safe. Up around 7. Got food and water. Cooked breakfast. Last leg of journey. It's been good.