I continued to hike through Georgia I thought I would never make it to the boarder. I was slowly making head way. I could feel my legs had gain some strength from when I started out. I wouldn’t tire as easily as before. I was really curious as to how different the woods were going to change. I couldn’t wait to see the trees in full bloom too. Many hours later I finally made it across the boarder. I finally made it further than the 20% of the people who try this. In my opinion this is one of the many great accomplishments along the AT. Hiking this far with all the difficulties I had to deal with and encounter. It definitely changed the way I tackle things and my approach to challenges the trail gives you.
I continued on hiking as the evening started to come near. I few hikers that were hiking along with me ended up staying at Muskrat Creek Shelter. I decided to goto the next shelter up. I got about halfway there when I passed some hikers coming the opposite way. I asked them if they knew how much further the shelter was. They said it was up a ways but it was going to be crowded. I thought nothing of it. I have my tent after all. I proceeded forward. About an hour later I was almost to the shelter but I was getting tired not to mention the sun was starting to setting. So, I found a camp site a mile outside of the shelter I was figured on staying at. I heard people talking about solo camping and I was about to get a taste of it.
I set my tent up on the flattest spot I could find. While I was setting up my tent I noticed a chipmunk on a dead tree about 15ft/4.5m checking me out as to what I was doing. I paid no attention to the little guy. I got everything set up and I crawled in the tent and sat there, thinking. What do I do now? Normally there are people to talk to but there is no one. I quickly got in my sleeping bag before my mind started playing tricks on me which I was already too late. I laid there waiting to goto sleep. Knowing I couldn’t goto sleep because my guard was up and I was getting stressed out. I smoked some weed hoping that would help me relax. One thing I have learned in my meditation is that deep breathing can relax you very quickly. I guess that’s why they tell people with high anxiety to breath deep so they can calm down. So I started deep breathing. I slowly started to feel by body relax. I heard the wind outside blowing and the leaves rustling. I tried to block it from my mind but I couldn’t seem to. I was getting more relaxed yet I kept hearing noises outside the tent. Paranoia starting to toy with me. Thinking that there was a large animal outside my tent. I kept hearing the leaves move around quickly then stop then go again then stop. I didn’t know what was out there but I kept my eyes closed and tried to focus on my breathing. I had the childlike mentality, out of site out of mind. The leaves got louder and louder. I knew something was coming up to my tent and fast. I just laid there frozen not knowing what I should do. Then all of a sudden something hit the tent behind my head. I quickly hit the tent wall behind my head and stayed there. Frozen with paranoia. My blood started pumping and my heart started racing. I started to try and rationalize what happened and what the hell hit the tent wall. Was my mind making it all up? As I laid there thinking as to what it could have been I started doing some deep breathing to calm me down and get me to think clearer. In my amazement I ended up thinking it was that chipmunk that was checking me out. Not sure what to make of the tent he was probably cautiously coming to the tent. When he his the tent I scared him by hitting the wall back. I didn’t hear any more noises other than what the wind was doing to the leaves.
I woke up with the shining of a somewhat full moon. I wasn’t sure what time it was since it was cold and my phone wasn’t working right. Lithium batteries hate cold wether. I laid there for a few minutes mentally preparing myself for the day. I was going to get my first 100m/160km and there was going to be a really steep incline I would have to overcome too, Mt. Albert. I got out of my sleeping bag and made some oatmeal. I quickly ate that and started packing everything up. I got out of the tent and the woods looked tremendous. The moon was bright enough to cast a shadow over the trees. I heard an owl hooting as I started getting my tent all packed away. I got back on the path and then a funny thought came to my mind. What if I only slept a few hours and because of the situation the few hours prior to sleeping, I woke up because of nerves or if it was a few hours before sunrise. I stood there thinking. Was my mind making that all up or is the sun really about to come up? I said they hell with it. If it is 22:00 and only got a few hours sleep then I guess this is going to be one long day. I started hiking again and trying to figure out the time cause it was really messing with my mind. After about an hour of hiking I started seeing some light in the distance. I was glad to see the sun. I was looking forward to warmer weather.
The more I hiked the more it seemed like I kept going up. When would this madness stop? I spoke to soon. Blood Mountain was the first difficult obstacle on the AT. Mt. Albert (5,250ft/1,600m) was the steepest incline the trail has thrown me. Forget using trekking poles. This is more hands on but a bit more difficult seeing my backpack has my balance off. Nevertheless I conquered it took a much needed break afterwards.
I ended up hiking 17.2m/27.6km that day and stopped at Long Branch Shelter. I started a fire and slowly hikers started walking in. They all could smell the smoke of the fire. There was some rain coming in that didn’t hit until later that night. I didn’t care. I was dry and warm in my sleeping bag. Some hikers and I saw that the rain was going to stop around noon so we just stayed there waiting it out. When the rain stopped we were the only ones that were not wet. Everybody else had hiked in the rain. We were almost to Wallace Gap where there was a shuttle that would take us to Franklin NC. We were very much looking forward to a buffet.