I left the Nantahala Outdoor Center at 11 this morning. I was delayed waiting for a few audio books to finish downloading, and honestly so that I could chat a bit more with a few friends online. I’ve found that since I haven’t had signal while out in the woods, I’ve been feeling far more lonely and enjoying the chance to reconnect whenever wifi becomes available. Because I’ve been hiking slower than most others, I haven’t really been running into the same people often enough to make any quality connections with fellow hikers.
I hiked from the NOC to the Sassafras Gap Shelter, which was a total distance of 6.9 miles, however the incline was incredibly steep, with a climb of about 3,000 feet. It felt like the climb would never end, the Trail would climb up out of view making me think I was finally reaching the top, only to discover that the climb continues at a different angle.
I have found though that while the climbing isn’t getting easier, I’m bearing it more. I simply focus on putting individual steps together and I make it.
I began the day listening to the Easter message from my home church (I downloaded the last several weeks messages while at the NOC) and I found the message particularly applicable as keep was talking about how our behavior should change knowing that God is with us. As I’ve said, loneliness has been a constant struggle, as well as simply feeling unequal to the task of a long distance hike, but framing these issues through a paradigm of God’s guiding presence brings them into a new relief worth giving more constant prayer and conscious consideration to
This is a good example of the type of incline I was seeing today
This was a great view from one of the rock outcroppings called “The Jump Up”
I often find the rock formations I pass fascinating
This is a memorial for a fireman who died fighting a forest fire near this spot. I stopped to take a moment of prayer for all those out here seeing to hiker safety, firefighters, Rangers, Ridge runners, etc
Some more interesting rock formations
An interesting flower I passed by
This was a fun part of the Trail where I couldn’t immediately figure out where I was supposed to be going