I'm writing to you from Uncle Johnny's Hostel outside Erwin Tenessee. Its a nice place right on the banks of the Nolichucky River and just a few yard from the trail which is always a plus. The hike here from Hot Springs has had its highs and lows, with a couple of nice balds and lots of flowering trees, but also some bland sections. The most unnerving part however was the last few miles here; the forest service has been conducting controlled burns that left everything around the trail burnt and smoldering in places, resulting in a black and brown landscape with a lingering smoke smell. Cool, but unexpected.
I seem to have found a group to hike with, or at least a loose affiliation of guys. Bad Dinner and Geoff, who I met at Fontana Dam, have been playing catch up with me and we've bumped into each other alot. Wookie and Wasabi, two guys from Maine, have also been going about my pace for now; we'll probably all stick together a bit until Damascus. My trail name by the way is Sandman, on account of the fact that I use sand in my sculptures, though it can also be "Sandblaster" or "Sandstorm", depending on how fast I blow by people. I still keep a quick pace, but with the Trail Days party in VA starting in 8 days, I've had to slow down to make sure I don't pass it by. Once that's over, the real fun will begin; I'm eager to see just how far I can push my body, and once the restrictions are off I plan on putting out some real monster days and catching up with people down the trail. I might try my feet at some night hiking as well, just to add some variety. Only time will tell, and seeing as my gear and myself seem to be holding up fine it'll be interesting to test my stamina a bit. As always, thanks for reading, feel free to shoot me questions or anything, I'll probably update again in Hampton TN or Damascus.