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Okay, there’s a lot of hikers who can push massive 25-30+ days but I’m not one of them. I don’t want to be either. No disrespect to those who want to fly as fast as possible to the finish line as I’m sure they are enjoying themselves and that’s how they want to do it. I’m just someone who wants to go slow and enjoy everything at a slower pace to see and experience as much as I can. I love walking off trail and checking out towns I’ll never see again and that’s exactly what I did today. Me and a great guy I met on trail, Snowman, hiked only 12.4 official AT miles today from High Top Shelter to Pochuck Mtn Shelter because we also added a little over a mile with walking into Unionville, TN. First, we had every intention of taking a blue blazed trail to the “Secret Shelter” which is an unofficial shelter on private land owned by a previous AT thru-hiker that set up the shelter for hikers to use. I wanted to to there because a very friendly donkey lives there named Jake. Of course I wanted a picture with the donkey! Somehow, unfortunately, Snowman and I missed the trail and didn’t notice until we came to the next road almost half a mile later. I am NOT walking back just to see a donkey! A lady who camped by us last night, Snack Pack, did go see Jake and said there was also a bear over down there and she got a picture of it. Okay, now I’m really sad I missed the trail. Anyway, we continued on and went into Unionville. I stopped at the general store there to do a small resupply and to get a roast beef sandwich on an onion roll to pack out for dinner. (It was so good and loaded with beef!) Then we headed over to Wits End Tavern where Snowman just laughed at the amount of food I was putting away. I loved this bar! If I lived there, I would be a regular. I devoured a salad, 5 wings, rodeo burger (big burger with bbq sauce, cheese and onion rings) with fries and two beers for less than $36. They were really hiker friendly too. They refilled my water bottles, let me recharge my batteries and had a hiker box. I spent a lot of time there, thus the reason for a short mileage day on a section that was pretty flat and easy. It was well worth it as I think checking out trail towns is part of the amazing AT experience. Now tomorrow is a dilemma. I have to stay near shelters. That’s the rules around here (unless I want to break it and really stealth camp where not allowed) but that leaves me with two options for tomorrow. Either I hike a mere 11.7 miles or I have to do 24 miles. I am set to meet Jason at the trail side zoo on Sunday. If I did 24 miles, it would put me there a full day early. Doing a big day doesn’t change the miles I can do on the following days after to get to the zoo. The closest I see I can get to the zoo is 9.6 miles. I found out the zoo is only open on the weekends now as well. The official AT (follow the white blazes) goes through the zoo. If you get to it when it’s closed then you have to take a blue blazed trail around it. I haven’t missed a white blaze yet and taken a blue blazed trail around a section and I don’t plan to start now. So, I’m just going to take my time, spend some a couple small days then almost a 20 mile day to do the 9.6 miles to the zoo on Sunday. I’ll then add walking through the zoo to offficially complete that section then let Jason pick me up after. After my time visiting in NYC, he’ll drop me back off hopefully at the other end of the zoo or I’ll just walk the blue blazed trail to get around it and back to where I finished it. Sigh! It’s the logistics of this hike I cannot stand.