April 21st

I woke up in the middle of the night last night to a mouse next to my head. I woke up a few other people in the shelter when I gave an involuntary shout while smacking at it with my stuff sack. I feel like I’m understanding of the mice until they’re in close proximity to my sleeping face.

I hiked from the Spence Field Shelter to the Derrick Knob Shelter, a total distance of 6.1 miles, again thrown off by regulations in the Smokies and the spacing of shelters. My choices were either to do only 6 miles today or over 12.

I was surprised by my hike today, I crossed over Rocky Top Mountain (and yes, I sang the song the whole time climbing it) and Thunderhead Mountain, and I was honestly expecting them to be the roughest part of the day. Instead, those two mountains were fairly leisurely in their climb, but the smaller hills I crossed afterwards were incredibly difficult. The terrain after the two mountains turned tough with sharp rocks pointed up or at angles, so that they sharply pressed into the boots. I was thinking I was incredibly greatful for the Outdoor 76 Outfitters convincing me to change my boots to something with a more durable sole as I’m sure I would have been miserable with softer shoes here.

No wildlife sightings today besides a deer doe passing the shelter during dinner tonight (my phone was off to conserve battery life and I was cursing my poor luck to not get a photo). I keep hoping to see a bear, but no luck yet. Here’s hoping when it happens, I’ll have my camera ready, and some safe distance between. [EDIT: the deer came back while I was typing up this log update, so a few photos will be included below]

The weather has taken a turn. Sometime last night, the wind began to kick up, howling over the shelter. It continued through today, I actually enjoyed the strong winds while I was on the mountain tops, as having my hair and beard blowing back while standing on the peak felt like a particularly manly moment. The temperature dropped today, so it was a little chilly, but it definitely made it more comfortable while hiking. However, now we’re expecting rain to come in tonight through tomorrow, which is concerning. I’m still struggling with rain, as it seems to get to my mood pretty quickly. I need to take some time to pray tonight for continued encouragement and endurance.
I’ve decided I’ll head into Gatlinburg for a resupply. I’d previously wanted to avoid this for both monetary and schedule reasons, as my 8 day limit for the Smokies is burning fast, and there’s no cheap accommodation in Gatlinburg like in other trail towns. However, I was not able to fit more than 5 days of food in my pack, and that won’t get me to my next resupply. I’ll probably hitch in the day after tomorrow from the area around Clingman’s Dome since a large number of tourists will be there

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