June 1st

Today I hiked from Standing campsite close to the 19E trailhead to a campsite close to Elk River, a distance of 7.6 miles. I also went into the town of Roan Mountain, Tennessee for a resupply visit to the grocery store, and also went to a local restaurant for lunch and a chance to recharge my battery backup for the phone.

I really enjoyed the visit in town, I walked a portion of the way, but caught a ride from local drivers for most. This was interesting, before I left for my hike, I’d come across information about how it was common to hitchhike and I’d determined that I wouldn’t do so and walk instead. Since I get incredibly social anxiety, I thought for sure there was no way I could handle hitchhiking. Instead I’ve found it a pretty enjoyable experience, I rarely have to stick out my thumb, locals will simply pull over when they see me walking with my pack and invite me to hop in. I have a lot of fun then chatting with them about the journey and themselves. They usually are pretty aware of the Trail and are excited to get to play a part of it. Both people who I hitched with today mentioned that they make a regular habit of it. The first actually mentioned he’d driven out of his way home to check if any hikers needed a ride, and he not only dropped me off, he ran me to two different locations to make my errands easier, first the post office then the grocery store.

I went a little overboard with my grocery trip, spending close to sixty dollars, and the resulting food bag would probably not have fit into my pack if I hadn’t also sent back some winter clothes to my parents. I bought a large box of chocolate pop tarts, a box of dehydrated skim milk, six bags of knorr pasta sides, two 1 pound blocks of cheddar cheese, a pound and a half of pepperoni, a pound of smoked sausage, and a cold bottle of coke. I drank the coke sitting out in front of the grocery store waiting for the barbecue restaurant across the street to open. I really enjoyed the restaurant as well. The staff was incredibly friendly, and the food was some of the best I’d had on the Trail so far.

I got back to the Trail around 2 in the afternoon. The hike was pleasant, though I crossed several open meadows, and I’m definitely noticing the difference with summer having kicked in. Very hot in the direct sunlight, I appreciate more and more the shade of walking in the woods. I met a group of hikers from of all places Ohio and Kentucky. There weren’t many views today, but we did come to Jones Falls which was fantastic. I’d actually hoped to camp there, but there wasn’t enough flat ground nearby. Instead I hiked a few miles further to find an unofficial tenting site close to Elk River.

I listened to a sermon from my church back home. The series they’re working through is about the supernatural and it’s been really enjoyable. The message today was on prayer and I found Marc’s remarks to he thoughtful and interesting.

I also listened to an audio book, “If Chins Could Kill” by Bruce Campbell. The book is read by the author, an actor I really enjoy, and tells his background of growing up in Michigan and how he got into the movie business by working in largely independent films with his friends, many of whom went on to become highly successful including Sam Raimi and the Cohen brothers.
It’s interesting listening to his stories, which are entertaining, because it’s made me think more about the ultimate problem of what I want life to be when I’m finished hiking. Campbell got into movies because he loved doing it. It’s hard work and took a lot of practice from summer theater and homemade super 8 movies to blockbuster films. I am reaching the point where I have a pretty good idea what I want to do with my life when I’m no longer hiking, and I think it’s going to take similar work and dedication. I just need a solidified plan.

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