Conditions: Warm w occasional cool breeze (80’s/60’s); wore a t-shirt w shorts.

Meals: B: power bar, L: almonds, power bar, D: cheddar broccoli rice w/ greenbriar tips

Daily Events: Slept by river last night and figured out how to adjusting the amount of air in the NeoAir pad, Cacoon pillow right. The DIY quilt and silk liner was plenty (no shirt, sprawled out hoping 4 breeze)

10am: I packed up the gear, got $260 for the shuttle ride with Caroline. Lost $40 from a hole in the pocket my worn shorts (I refuse to get rid of) and backtracked to no avail. Arrg. Dug into my travel $ (thanks Mom & Dad!). She’s a pretty (late 20’s?) woman that’s lived in Hot Springs for 12 years. I asked her about the cell service and she said she hikes up into the mountains to get service and text. Wow. AT&T, hello? Great conversation on the drive (Thanks Caroline)! I was thinking of moving to the area when Patty and I were talking earlier, but I found out it’s almost impossible to get jobs here. Everyone’s just looking for work and signing up for unemployment benefits.

1pm. Arriving at Dick Creek Gap (just south of GA border), I met Jason & his dog Duke. He out of a job, so he here to figure out what to do next. Hard times. I walked ahead to Plum Orchard Gap Shelter, a wooden platform with three-walled and a roof. There was a scout troop there. Loud, whiney kids everywhere. No way. It’s only 2:30pm, so I continued to a “Campsite” marked on the hiker’s guidebook and passed up several day hiker groups until about mile 8. I ate, dug a cat-hole (you’ll figure out), showered, brushed teeth, laundered shirts,… bored. Where’s all the long-hikers? I miss being w the trail family in 2011. I also realize just how much I rely on Internet, phone service and any other connection. Phone “no service”. Feels weird to be alone for real. No contact; just the sounds of nature. At night it’s really dark. Twig snap – Bear? No, ok. Twig snap, squint. Bear? Nope. 10:30pm, there’s thunder and in no time its a downpour. I lower and re-stake the the tent for rain, but the rain drops kick up mud splatter through the bug mesh under the tarp. Seriously? Long night. I’ll adapt to it, and soak in the experience, loving both good and bad. And for the animal in the tree right over my tent that sounded like a Amazonian monkey (all night), thanks for breaking me in.

Gear notes:
LokSak – is great! Use it for iPhone to keep waterproof.
lightweight hammock? – relax at camp
Book – fend off boredom
Platypus w hose – to shower/launder