13 miles today, definitely not what I planned on doing this early in the trip. But I got to the first shelter at noon which was way too early to stop. I’ll be slowing down again over the next couple of days. There’s a five mile area coming up where bear canisters are required that has to be worked around. It’s a shame because there are two shelters in that stretch and no one stays at them any more. It would be nice if they could get bear boxes in there.

I left Stover Creek at 9:30 this morning and climbed over two mountains and reached Gooch Mountain shelter by 4:45. Sassafras Mountain was a 600 foot climb in 1 mile, and Justus Mountain was a 300 foot climb in a half mile. I ate a Snickers right before Sassafras and either it wasn’t as bad a climb as I thought it would be, or that Snickers really worked. Downhill was much harder and made my feet and hips a bit sore. I was babying my knees with my trekking poles since those are usually the first injured on a downhill. I’ve been stretching ever since I got to this shelter though.

I was leap frogging a few hikers I already knew today and several of them from last night’s shelter are at this one, plus a bunch more. There have to be at least twenty people here, lots tenting. I’m tenting again and just like last night I’m on a very slight incline so I’ll spend the night climbing back up in my tent as I slide down it. Someone got a nice roaring fire going so I was able to hang out outside for longer. That’s good because I’m still not good at going to bed this early and pretty much nap on and off all night instead of sleeping through. I can’t wait until I’m tired enough at night to pass out until morning. Today was very tiring but I need to be out here a little longer for that to happen. I was very hungry tonight though and ate my whole delicious meal of mac and cheese quickly, whereas last night I had to make myself finish my dinner. So maybe the hunger is starting to catch up at least. Of course, this is only my third night out, second day hiking. I need to calm down.

Everyone is talking about how it’s going to be in the low 20s tonight but I’m pretty sure that’s what it was last night. A few things I threw in my pack last minute were a silk sleeping bag liner and a fleece vest. My first night out I was too warm with them on and had to unzip my bag a little for the majority of the night but last night I was glad to have them and I’m sure tonight I will be too. At least the wind has calmed down a bit. I do have other clothes I can put on as well if needed.

One other thing I threw in my pack last minute was camp shoes, Crocs knockoffs from walmart. It is nice to get out of my hiking shoes and let them air out at the end of the day. The camp shoes can also be used for river crossings when that comes up. One thing I took out of my pack last minute was goretex socks. I had planned on having those for when it snows or rains while it’s still cold since my shoes are not waterproof but they were a total pain to get on and off, and the seams inside were so big I thought they’d give me blisters. I haven’t even had any hot spots yet, although I once again forgot to put bag balm on my feet before getting in my sleeping bag, a tip I picked up from Postcard at REI Marlton. Will start doing that tomorrow. Right now I’m sure the sock liners are helping with the no blister situation.

I haven’t played my mandolin yet as my fingers are too cold by the time I roll into camp and finish my camp chores. Also I discovered yesterday that the little piece on the nut between my E strings broke off. I can still shove it down there for now but I need to email the luthier about a replacement. It’s only been in my pack a couple of days and it’s rolled up in a foam mat so I don’t know how that little piece would have even hit anything.

Most people still don’t have trail names yet but it’s fun trying to think them up. It was good to socialize with so many people tonight.

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