Journal entry: February 22

February 22
Most of us woke up around 6, Hawkeye, Hannah, and Sean left with the dawn. The rest of us are slow in the mornings. That was also the most uncomfortable night I’ve had in a while. When I get to Neel Gap, I’m probably going to change out my pad for a thicker one. 
It’s kind of chilly and very foggy this morning, but I’m heading out to Gooch Mountain today. Talk later.
5pm
Made it to Gooch Mountain shelter around three. I was planning on just stopping for lunch, then moving on to Gooch Gap, but the 7.7 miles tired me out more than I thought they would. 
I filled up all my water, so if I just use the small bladder for cooking and cleaning, I’ll still have three liters in the morning. The next shelter is twelve miles out, and Neel Gap just 4 more (Gooch is mile marker 15.8, Neel Gap is 31.1)
I left Little Foot, Mama Bear, and Boots back at Hawk Mountain, haven’t seen them all day. Five-Oh camped a few miles back at Devil’s Kitchen, while Ethan, Hannah, and Sean are way ahead of me. Hawkeye is camped here, and so are several other hikers. I’m surprisingly tired of people, given I’d only seen like ten today, so I’m staying on one of the tent pads tonight. I have a pouch of mashed potatoes in my left hand as I write this, and I’m eating occasionally. Dinner will be instant mashed potatoes, and maybe some soup if I’m still hungry. I’ve almost hit hiker hunger, but not quite yet.
I really like the shelters I’ve seen so far. They all have a privy (not the most glamorous thing, but it beats a hole in the ground), a building with a raised sleeping platform (the last few also had a sleeping loft), and a nearby water source. The ATC encourages hikers to stay at the shelters, because it lowers the impact thru hikers have.
There are also unofficial campsites along the trail. My two favorites so far are a fire ring under a rock overhang overlooking the valley, and a small clearing on the side of a creek surrounded by greenery. I sadly didn’t get pictures of either, but I’ll try to remember for future campsites.
I hope to make Woods Hole shelter tomorrow, but that’s mile 27.9, and Gooch is 15.8. I don’t quite think I can pull off a 12.1 mile day just yet. I’m likely going to stop at Lance Creek restoration area. There’s a campsite there with water nearby. I do plan on taking a zero-mile day at Mountain Crossings at Neel Gap, so I can take a shower and do my laundry. I’ll also be able to finally post these online.
I truthfully don’t have many details on these, because my mind blanks out while hiking, and I’m not usually thinking of much beyond where I’m putting my feet next.

It’s now 7:30, the sun is mostly down, and the hills are echoing with the calls of coyotes. There were several owls having a sass off earlier, but they were shouted down by a group of crows. (Later edit, it was a pair of barred owls)
I was looking at the trail ahead, and I am not looking forward to climbing Blood Mountain. It’s the tallest peak on the AT in Georgia, and it’s really steep as well. Woods Hole shelter is at its base, so I’ll definitely stay the night there before climbing that beast.
Well, I’m snuggled down in my hammock, so I’m going to sleep shortly. I have noticed, though, that my sleep schedule has drastically changed, even in just a few days. Back at home, it was difficult for me to fall asleep before 1 AM. Out here, staying up past 8PM is difficult, although I do find myself waking up in the middle of the night for about an hour. I also used to have difficulty waking up before 10am but the past several days, I’m up around 5 or 6, though I don’t immediately start packing up to go. That’s going to change, though. This morning it took me about an hour and a half to get ready to go, but tonight, I have almost everything packed up as soon as it wasn’t needed anymore. I can’t pack my food until morning, as you are supposed to hang your food from a tree, or the cables provided at the shelters. The last two shelters had bear-proof chests to stick your food in, which is what I’m doing. The bear cables are loud, and I’m hoping to get an earlier start tomorrow. 

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