Conditions: overcast w/ some thunderstorms later. 80’s/60’s.

B: almonds L: power bar D: Ramen w/ Spam single (& banana moon pie thanks Littlefoot)

I forgot to add the video clip of what 4-day old hiking sock look like (its not pretty):

Stayed in Fraklin 2 days. It’s 11 mi away, so I hitched in, shuttled out($20). Got an “ultralamina 32” sleeping bag, Chacos, deodorant, “Henderson Youth Basketball League (Goodwill)” jersey – swampy armpit freedom (very nice!), $4 mini umbrella (~8″x3″, ~4oz?). Ditched the undersized quilt and silk thermals in an overstuffed flat-rate USPS box hoping the tape job hold its seams. We had moderate rain in the late afternoon, umbrella worked perfect (thanks, Dollar General)! There’s a big deal over having treking poles OR umbrella, but for the hikers reading this, collapse one pole and hold it and the umbrella and just use one. You will love the ventilation rather than perspiring under the rain jacket so much you’re sopping wet anyways. Chacos are awesome. Blisters are healed and heel feels better. Every creek delivers a cool dip for the piggies. Feels great. Getting used to the straps and my heels get cracks from drying, so I’ll probably switch out with my shoes every so often until they adapt. Chacos are definitely the way to go for the shorter wet areas (Thanks Josh!).
I didn’t have time to paint at Wayah Bald (rain), so I sketched, took down color notes & pic as reference for later. Those distant mountains are so mesmerizing. I hope i can find a way to capture that!!

Littlefoot, Berg caught up to me and slept up on the observatory gazebo in the thunderstorm! Crazy. I hike down to the shelter – full. With no other options, I set up tent in rain. It worked out well keeping me dry and sleeping bag was perfect. I wish I had my tarp so I’d have some way to be out of the rain while I pull out my gear to get the tent set up.

6-8: Hiking with Littlefoot and Berg today. It’s so nice to have the company! Didn’t know their agenda, just went with it to hang out. Littlefoot, about ~6′, 210lb. does not resemble his name as he’s the biggest of us. He eats for two, alone. His easygoing nature is inviting to anyone. His companion, Berg, is ~5’11”, 150lb (as skinny as me) and is quiet, but not shy. They both attended Appalachian State in Boone and are awaiting officer training for the Army.
As the day goes, we start together, Berg flies ahead, Littlefoot lags behind and I stop and go putting bandaids on toes and arches. When I think they’ve lost me at their speed, all the sudden they are there and we stop for lunch. It’s a mystery how we keep together, but somehow it works. We had lunch at Cold Springs Shelter, that lives up to its name. The mountain stream alongside chills the air like an AC unit on full blast in just that little nook. Donning out jackets and warm gear, we held vitally important conversations like “What does SPAM tastes like?”, “Can you make two day hiking on only gummi bears?”, and their plans to hike the entire way, flip flop style, continuing north to Damascus (W. Virginia), then taking an Amtrak from Damascus to Maine and heading south riding good weather all the way.
It was a tough decent in the last part of he day, dropping about 2000+ ft miles between miles 10-15. We’re now just outside of the Nantahala Ourdoor Center (NOC), so we’ll pass through there tomorrow. All our knees were hurting and we ate twice as much for dinner. Starving. At the days end, I caught a glimpse of evening sun shining through the forest over a blue tarp tent and painted until the last of the light. I may have inspired a few other campers around us to bring their art gear on the next outing!
It seems that the tropical storm heading our way will make for a lot of rain in the next 7-10 days. I may slow down tucking into shelters, losing my friends as they forge ahead, but it all the reason to savor the sweet moments, and good laughs while they last.
Not much time for editing. This is writing on-the-go. I think it, write it and walk on.