Thankfully, my body is holding up well and I don't feel too many aches or pains. My leg muscles aren't sore, which I find so odd, but my feet are still sore every day. I can feel them toughening up, but it's taking time. My shoulders were sore for about 2 days before they adjusted to having a pack on them.
One thing that has surprised me is how I handle the uphills versus the downhills. Georgia is full of steep climbs followed by steep descents and I can seriously destroy an uphill, but the downhills slow me down and cause my shins and ankles some pain. One thing is for sure though, I don't think I could do either without my hiking poles. They are amazing.
Sleeping outside continues to be something I am getting used to. The cold nights are few and far between, but even with my fantastic sleeping pad, I just cannot get comfortable. It hurts my hips and joints each night and I have to re-adjust a lot. Hopefully this is just a learning process for my body and over time it becomes a non-issue.
Rooney is doing well and adjusting to his new trail life. The first two days he kind of didn't seem like himself and he was just a little more skitish than usual. We showed him lots of love and by day 3 he was back to his normal self and seemed to understand that the tent is his home. He eagerly climbs in it each night now and will even stay in there peachfully by himself while we run errands or make dinner at the shelter. Amazing.
One thing that we knew going in, but is proving to be very true, is that a thru-hike with a dog is a lot of extra work. It's well worth it, but make no mistake, if you take your dog on the trail you become the second priority. Serial and I spend a lot of time talking about Rooney's health, happiness and needs. So far we have figured out a few tricks that are helping.
In towns, we make sure to grab extra meat and olive oil for Rooney. It supplements his food and gives him the extra fat and calories he needs to keep weight on and stay warm at night. In the tent at night, we make sure we cover him up with our winter coats and let him snuggle into us whenever he needs. So far, it's working well and he seems happy but we are constantly watching him and talking about his needs.
Mileage and Planning
This week I learned a valuable lesson in being flexible with our planning. Each day we look at the guidebook and talk about what we would like to accomplish for the day and where we would like to end up for camping, but we try to stay flexible and accomodating to each other's needs too. These past few days are a great example.
Initially we planned to spend two nights in Hiawasee (a nero and a zero), but when we were still about 16-17 miles before the shuttle pick-up location I was having a rough day. I hadn't slept well since we started and we just came off a night in the low 20s so I was tired and my spirits were dragging. Serial suggested that we call for a shuttle that day and split our two nights at the hotel into two separate visits. So smart!
So, on Thursday we hiked 9 miles and got a shuttle to town for night one in the hotel. Then Friday morning we went back to the trail and did 13 miles, fresh off of a good night's rest and with lighter packs since we were able to leave some stuff at the hotel. We spent Friday night on the trail and then got picked up again on Saturday morning to head back to the hotel again. We didn't lose any trail miles or spend any more nights in the hotel than we originally planned, but we adjusted to our tired bodies when we needed to. Taught me an important lesson in staying flexible and made me appreciate my awesome hiking partner.
Alright my friends, this is all I have time to write out for now, but I will try to get pictures posted at some soon. We will be in another town shortly and I will be able to post more. Thanks as always for the support and love!!
Jill, Serial & Rooney
PS - I still don't have a trail name, but hopefully soon!!