April 20th

I woke up several times last night due to loud mice in the shelter. Each time I struggled with getting back to sleep as a part of me was convinced that I’d shortly feel a mouse crawl over my face. (when I was a child of woke up once to a mouse in my face and it’s been a minor reoccurring fear ever since)

I woke up at 6 this morning planning in getting a head start on the day, but I struggled with my slow pace. This became a theme of the day as my pace just hovered above nothing. I had planned to hike a total distance of 12 miles today, but ended up hiking from Mollie’s Ridge Shelter to the Spence Field Shelter, a total distance of only 6 miles. Part of this had to do with the frustrating regulations of the Smoky Mountains National Park, which restricts you to only camping at set spots, and there’s no rest point between those two shelters, so I couldn’t push on for an 8-10 mile day instead. That said, my energy level and drive were still at a low today, but I’m not sure why. It may have had to do with an extremely hard hike yesterday, not getting enough sleep the night before, or a lack of balanced nutrition. My plan then has been to go to bed particularly early tonight (6 pm instead of 8 pm) and I’ve also doubled up on my daily vitamins and added olive oil to my dinner to ensure sufficient calories

My mood was also particularly foul today, mostly because of the loss of energy, with today being one of the few times since early Georgia when I found myself seriously contemplating quitting and what that would most need to look like. However, I stopped for a long lunch break after only a few miles and sitting next to a stream, enjoying the flowers, and the general feeling of the forest, my outlook picked up. Again, I’m frustrated with the Smokies regulations that demand I finish the park in a set number of days, because I think I’d enjoy it a great deal more if I could take my time. I find myself looking forward to the post Smokies hike more and more.

I was asked to write a monologue on the theme “new” for my church back home, and thought I’d take a crack at it here

The New Mountain

The rock reached up for the sky, the screaming clashing of tectonics pushing it forth.

The world howled at the pain of it, lava belched forth like blood from a wound, smoke crawling skyward.

And still the ridges began to form,

The powerful peak began to take shape.

It cloaks itself in clouds as it rises, a kings mantle as it takes the rulership of the sky.

Men will crawl from miles to reach its summit

Women will look and name their children for the sights of it

It stands as a monument to its Creator

For who could set its foundation?

Who can know what lives in its depths?

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