Monday, May 20th

We awoke just after 9:00. The day promised to be wonderful, though it was already a little warm. The forecast called for rain, but that would be welcome for us. Neven, Jim, Brandy and Crag had already decided to stick around in town a little longer, leaving the newlyweds and I to pack up and leave. They headed north to Erwin, I south to make up the miles to Mountain Moma's.

It would have been too difficult to attempt to hitch down those dirt roads to hike the 36 missed miles in order, so I decided to simply walk there from Hot Springs and hitch back. I left my laptop in Hot Springs and carried but two days worth of food, bringing my pack weight down to just over 50 pounds. Such luxury! I passed some northbound thru-hikers that day, none of whom I'd heard of. I had intended to go but 2 miles to the first shelter, but I kept going. It was a hot day, and I was concerning about having enough water. Not many springs were indicated on the map. It's difficult, for me, to ration water. I take hits out of the bottle as is needed, little squirts to keep my mouth happy. The lighter my bottle gets, the less sips I take, the smaller they are.

I passed a number of Mayapples, now blooming, and purple trilliums, both of which lined the trail for most of my trip. All of the leaves are out, giving everything a greenish tint when they filter the sunlight. Mossy logs were strewn like Lincoln Logs throughout the forest, green fuzzy streaks in an otherwise linear leafy floor. The trail cut through grass that was plentiful on the packed-dirt, which tickled my legs while I walked, giving me a ridiculous grin most of the time. Little purple violets poked up through the rocks, drawing my attention to geology I'd previously ignored. At one point I came across a puddle, maybe two inches deep. It was full, just jam-packed, of little pollywogs. All were about an inch long, little grey fellows, that swished and flipped about when I approached. I hope we get a good rain so they're OK.

I hit the second, Walnut Creek Shelter, and decided to keep going once again. So, after 14.5 miles, I arrived at Roaring Fork Shelter. There were half a dozen other hikers that arrived just as I had, northbound thru-hikers. The only names that I got were Ernie and Bert, brothers. I cooked in the dark, having a package of Lipton noodles and a package of Kraft mac and cheese, and slept well.

Miles Today: 14.6
Today's Song: U2, "One"

"I like to smell the flowers, I like to see the flowers, but there comes a time when I like to know my friends' names."

- Past Thru-Hiker

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