(From Ellie's journal, April 4 - Saturday)
The first real milestone! The trail passes right through a historic stone building that houses an outfitter, 18-bunk hostel ($15 a night) showers, TOWELS (you don't have to dry yourself with a bandana), washer and dryer. Everyone's been saying for three days "When I get to Neel's Gap I'm going to..." It's all you hear, like some kind of Mecca. and it really is. I got food - Trail Dames, a hiking group, were hosting a huge barbecue, like the most awesome post-marathon food station including hamburgers, hot dogs, chili, sauerkraut, chips, cookies, Krispy Kremes, just awesome. A couple of them "knew" me already from the Women Hikers List yahoo group. We were so excited to meet!
n the outfitter a woman the age of my daughter Avery helped me go through my pack, toss unnecessary stuff, and re-organize it. She helped me shed 2.5 pounds. That's significant but nowhere near the average 12.5. So I'd done a pretty good lightweight job from the start. My weight is 27-30 pounds depending on how much food I have.
Best of all - Steve met me here with love, kisses, and a food box. I'm afraid that with the pack shakedown and flitting about with my new friends I didn't spend as much time with him as I could have. He brought me a 4-pack of little Sutter Home Merlot to share with my hostel mates tonight.
And I finally caught up with sally. This is her second night here. She beat me by a whole day. Well, now that I'm toughening up, maybe I can keep up with her. Or not. We're going to start together, anyhow!
Tomorrow is a 10-mile day. There's a closer shelter but there's a Bear Warning and hikers are advised to skip that one and move on.
It's 5:30 am. I've been awake since 3:30. Went to sleep about 10:30. I thought insomnia wouldn't be a problem on the trail but it is. Anxiety goes with it. I feel "attacks" starting as soon as I settle down in my tent. We are so out in the middle of nowhere. Instead of kicking my anxiety and sleep meds, I'm taking the max of both. Had I not had that humdinger panic attack in October, been hospitalized overnight, tested out the wazoo, and pronounced healthy other than a panic disorder, I'd probably have had one on the trail and quit by now. Instead, I recognize it, breathe deeply, remember there's nothing wrong, and get over it.
Maybe God arranged that big one for me to get it over and done so I could hike armed with that it's "only" anxiety. And quite possibly as we continue, I'll get over it.
Sally walks ahead of me, N-Da-Wind behind me (although we are together a lot) but the lord always walks with me. In the rustling grass I hear Him pass, He speaks to me everywhere.