Thursday, April 25th

NC/GA borderI woke up early, around 8. I was the 2nd to last to pry myself out of my sleeping bag -- Blaze Blind got 1st place for laziest. I munched on a couple of packets of Strawberry & Cream oatmeal for breakfast, even tossing in granola, banana Gerber's, and raisins. I swallowed a Pop Tart and began to pack. Turtle was first out of camp in anticipation of a slow day. Jim was second, fearing his ill-fitting boots would slow him down. I passed both soon after starting. I'm truly fortunate to remain injury-free. I don't know if I would be as persevering as some of these hikers are if I were to sustain an injury.

By late morning the sky was an amazing shade of blue - that dark, deep, passionate blue that is just not possible to be reproduced. It is a color reserved for the sky. There was not a cloud to break it up, just a sea above me.

It was in the mid-60s. Another perfect day for hiking. I hit my first big goal after a little over an hour of hiking -- the Georgia and North Carolina border! I paused, put my hand on that beautiful marker, lifted my head and screamed. "Yeeee-haw!" I heard a distant echo, repeated a few times. I looked up the trail a bit. There were Molloy, The Accident Waiting to Happen, Comet Kid and Free Spirit, screaming right along with me as they broke camp.

Georgia had quite a welcome mat out, consisting of a 500 foot climb over less than half a mile. It seems that nobody had told North Carolina trail blazers about switchbacks, as the slope went directly up that mountain. I hit Muskrat Creek Shelter two and a half miles later, finding Molloy, Comet Kid and Trail Snail eating lunch there. I ate a lunch of pita bread, a Snickers bar, raisins and peanut butter, and continued hiking with the Snail, my first hiking partner since I'd started. Kevin and I hiked together for nearly five miles, the distance to Standing Indian Shelter. The trail was extremely well-graded, making for a brisk walk across some nice terrain.

We found Sven (Rob) and The Two Brothers, Younger (Cameron) and Older (Jay) at the shelter. I'd been reading their entries in the journals, as they'd been ahead of me for a bit, but I'd never actually met them.

It's awfully odd to have read all of somebody's entries in their journals, over the course of several weeks - you feel like you know them. But they, of course, have been hiking ahead of you, so they've never read any of your entries. You feel like you know them, but they don't know you. It's embarrassing, in a way.

All of us got our stoves blazing, five roaring away on the picnic table, making our suppers. I had a Lipton noodle kinda deal with some Kool Aid. It seems those Lipton meal-in-a-bag things are fairly popular among thru-hikers.

Free Spirit came in after we finished eating. She set about making chili for supper. We weren't too happy about that, as this was a small shelter. I attempted to make chocolate pudding for dessert, but I just got a lumpy sort of a mess. It was pretty bloody good, though.

Younger Brother pulled a weather radio out of his pack. The forecast called for thunderstorms that evening. Looking outside, it was windy, but we could see stars above us. We assumed that the forecast must apply farther south. We all somehow squeezed into the tiny shelter, nestled like sardines, kept company by mice and the wind, both tearing around the shelter and making entirely too much noise.

Song Stuck in my Head Today: Suzanne Vega, "Fat Man and Dancing Girl"

Miles Today: 12.2

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