Mile 1735.9-1771.0 (35.1 +0.6)
I was glad when morning came. With little sleep, I took my time packing up and hiking out. On trail by 6:30am.
Four miles in, I took a short side trail to Hyatt Lake campground to take a hot shower and rinse out my clothing. It felt so, so good. I let my things dry while I ate more snacks and charged my phone. Then, back to the trail.
I met a hiker named Navi and later caught up with Gilligan at a spring. Navi caught up with me again and we chatted for a minute before I took off to check out South Brown Mountain shelter and get more water. I also needed another caloric boost to get in the last 10 miles of the day. The trail was still fairly flat, with only a few blowdowns, but I was flagging.
So I ate some dark chocolate and stuffed a few bars in my hip belt, drank water, and set out. Flat, flat, flat. A few mosquitos buzzing around. Suddenly, the trail switched from benign dirt and pine needles to red volcanic pebbles, like Cocoa Puffs. Hard on the feet. I kept hiking. Saw Mt. McLaughlin in the distance. The sun sank into the horizon. I crossed Hwy 140 and reached my campsite. There was trail magic, cookies and soda, and Nemo was camped there too. We chatted for a while before bed. Suddenly there are hikers everywhere.