Today was the day I really got started.
I was up at dawn getting all my things packed up and tidying up the cabin I had stayed in for 3 nights. Porridge, fresh banana (bought for me by Baltimore Jack when I refused a free hot dog) and real coffee for breakfast, luxurious since I don’t even have breakfast on trail.
I checked out at 8.30am and wandered up to Mountain Crossings. Yak was there and asked how the pack test had gone. I took off my pack and shook my hand out since it had started up in the 5 minute walk over. So we moved my gear over to my new pack to see if it would fit. The Granite Gear Blaze AC 60 is the new pack. Sadly they didn’t have a ULA Circuit in medium with J-strap in stock so the Blaze it had to be. A bit of Tetris play to get it all in plus a couple of items now have to go in my trouser pockets as the Blaze has no hip belt pockets but everything is secondary to losing an arm.
By 10 I was all set. Having jettisoned a few more smaller items (um, food mostly) my pack weight without water was down to 21lb. I wanted to give myself the best possible chance of a successful day and if it meant going a bit hungry then so be it.
I shook Yak’s hand in thanks – he’d spent about 3 hours with me and was always positive and helpful – and set off FINALLY beyond Mountain Crossings where it felt like I’d been stuck for ages.
I had no fixed plan for how far to hike today. I just knew if I was still pain-free after an hour then everything might be ok after all.
And so it proved. By lunchtime I was more concerned with how exhausting the hiking was than my arm. By evening I was simply exhausted, having finally experienced a normal day of hiking the AT. I camped at Low Gap, mile 43.2. It will get close to freezing tonight and then tomorrow may be wet but warmish.