May 10. Woke up in a hotel in Daleville for the 3rd day in a row...time to get back on the trail! Although I wished we had left town a day earlier it was raining pretty hard yesterday and my Grandpa Clemens put it in perspective with an email that said "school kids have snow days and hikers have rain days". Makes sense to me! We had breakfast with Flossermanjaro and around 9 AM Meat and I said bye to Sarvis and hit the trail. We started out strong...we had 3 days of food and we had both downsized our gear quite a bit. On the way out of town we passed some other hikers and one guy said "Tarzan! How did you get your pack so small?" Now that's what I like to hear! At the first shelter we came to we met an older Asian guy hiking and soon learned that at 70 years old, the retired doctor took off to hike the Appalachian Trail. A few miles back coming down Dragon's Tooth trail he fell and broke his knee. That was 6 years ago. Now he is 76 years old and back on the AT to finish his hike. He was small in stature but big in a personality and his positive attitude and his story was pretty inspiring! We hiked on and stopped at another shelter for dinner and sat at the table with a hiker from Ohio. Today was his first day back on the trail for a section hike and we shared trail stories and talked for a long time. Both gentlemen we met on the trail today were a lot of fun to talk with and it was a great reminder of why we are on this trek! After dinner Meat and I decided to push on for a few more miles. When we finally found a flat place to camp we had hiked a total of 23 miles. Earlier in the afternoon Meat made the comment that today could be our biggest mileage hike on a day leaving town. It turned out to be one of our biggest mileage days so far, even with a food resupply in town! It was really due to our decision to only carry 3 days of food, that keeps the pack light, and because we both dropped our total pack weight.
My pack felt amazing today and it really got me thinking more about going ultralight. I reduced my gear and volume so much that the roll top on my backpack goes down a few inches below the top of my frame sheet. My ULA Catalyst pack can hold up to something like 65 or 70 liters and I am sure I will be looking for a lighter pack with less capacity soon. Below is a photo of my gear laid out on the bed in Daleville. Starting in the top left is my emergency blanket, my guide book, camp shoes, food bag (green), and sleeping bag and clothes (gray and yellow). In the next row my journal and electronic chargers, my blue pack rain cover, red bandana and red hat, gray and yellow sleeping pad, and tent. On the bottom row is water bottles, rope, water treatment and hand sanitizer, camera and tripod, medical kit, rain coat, and the all important toilet paper. And that's it! I am still trying to get rid of more items I can live without...we will see!