In leaving the town of Franklin, NC I was given a ride back to the trailhead by the President of the hiking club there. Nice fellow. He mentioned to me that by the time Franklin rolled around, about 50% of all potential thru-hikers had given up. As soon as I got back on the trail it certainly felt that way. It just felt deserted. I saw only a couple of people during that first day back on the trail and they were just out for the day. That being the case I had the pleasure of spending the night alone in the woods. Well, I wasn’t completely alone as I had the mice to keep me company. Throughout the night two mice were doing laps around me like I was the infield of Churchill Downs.
In the time I had alone on the trail I have been thinking about what I am carrying with me and how, in theory, I want to get my pack weight lower. It’s not like I have much else to think about on the trail. One afternoon I had debate with myself over the death penalty. It took hours, but I am pretty sure I won. Also, when hiking alone it is wise to talk or sing so that bears can hear you coming and have a chance to wander off before I round a corner and surprise them. I spent a morning repeatededly singing every National Anthem I know, which amounts to the anthems of: America, Canada and Germany. I wasn’t just singing (which I do badly), I was really belting it out like I was Roseanne Barr singing the anthem at a baseball game. I would have been rather embarrased had I come across anyone. At least on the bike ride I had signs along the road to remind me of things, which then generated a train of thought to keep my mind occupied for a few hours. I also had people to speak with throughout the day. Another pursuit to occupy my time has been whistling opera arias. At least I know more than three.
I am currently in Gatlinsburg, Tennnessee using a library computer. I was only given a half an hour, most of which I used checking e-mail, so I am getting the evil eye from the librarian. I best wrap it up, but I will be passing through a small town or two in the next couple of days, so I hope to post more about the trail then.