Day 11: slow down edition 

Started slow today with another breakfast in bed at the holly inn. I bought a yogurt at my Walmart resupply so I had that with banana as well as the amazing fruit muffins. Home sweet home. Then I lounged, half heartedly attempted to nap, reassembled my foot care (aka taped the spots I’m likely to get blisters) and packed up the exploded gear in the hotel room. We got a ride from one of the caretakers back to route 34. Getting in the car to the trail brought up some anxiety about whether my body would be ready for more hiking. I can see why people quit while they’re in town. It leaves time for the doubt to sink in, which for me was compounded by the needling fear of hurting myself. But today was not the day to quit. 

After thanking the inn caretaker, we began a slow climb back to the woods. My pack was so heavy today because I have a little too much food and I packed out a pear so I could take this picture: 

After the first gradual climb, things evened out to a reasonable up/down until we hit the rock maze. Right at the edge of the maze we ran into this happy little dog named Annabelle and her VERY loquacious owner. Wow. But she does trail magic, so she’s a good soul. 

After extracting from that conversation, we picked our way through the giant boulders and had a few laughs. 

We all spread out to our own pace after a break around 2p. White dogwoods stood out amongst the bright green of new leaves and young ferns covered the forest floor on the way down to a road crossing. 

I felt a few twinges in my left shin, which scared me. I went back to my strategy of using my core and focusing on lifting my legs from my hips instead of just using the small muscles of my ankles and shins. This seemed to help a lot. While I have good speed on hills, I’m not sure I’m recruiting the right muscles. I slowed down and tried to focus on using my glutes and quads on the ascents. 

We made it to the shelter around 3. I plopped down at the picnic table and made this beauty of a wrap (deli style tuna packet, mustard, babybel cheese, and Fritos for a bit of crunch): 

Then came the task of water filtering. I like to filter a full 2 liters and my side pocket bottles in the evening, so that I have almost enough water to get through dinner, breakfast and my morning of hiking. Sometimes it works out and sometimes I’m somehow still stuck filtering before I leave in the morning. Had a dinner of “cheesy lentils,” which is one of the meals I dehydrated before I left. I’d show you a picture but it looks like baby food. After dinner, a guy named Alaska Buzz rolled into camp and asked about room in the shelter. He said his buddy Reddmage was behind him, which made Chrissy and me erupt with surprise because we both follow Reddmage on instagram. It felt like a celebrity sighting. Being the dweeb that I am, I asked for a picture. 

The NOBOs (aka northbounders) sat around eating honey buns and telling stories. They were super inclusive of us newbie flip floppers.

I made the mistake of eating too much trail mix before real food, which has my stomach cramping and sad tonight. There are 8 of us tucked into the shelter, and it’s supposed to rain pretty hard tonight and most of tomorrow. Let’s hope the mice don’t come out to play on our faces. 
Mile 1110.9 to mile 1117.7 (6.8)

Total miles: 114.5
Creature feature: just that dopey dog who pulled her owner all over the place trying to say hi to all of us 

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