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I woke this morning around 5:30 and watched a beautiful sunrise while I made breakfast and coffee. The sun rose over the mountains and a distant lake that had fog above it. It was gorgeous. I hit the trail at 7am and immediately felt exhausted. I think my problem is that I try to go too fast and too many miles without warming up. Starting off slower and easing into the hike makes more sense for me.
I hiked slowly and took some footage. About an hour in I was getting excruciating knee pain with every step. It was so bad that I actually couldn't walk for a few minutes and had to take a break. I paused at a beautiful beaver pond and relaxed before pushing on to the next shelter. I realized it had taken me nearly 3 hours to go 4 miles and I usually average 3 miles/hour. I remembered there being a parking lot ahead before Stratton Mountain so I'd decided to see if I could get a hitch into town and find a knee brace. Instead I found a blue blazed trail that I could take directly to the shelter and it would avoid the strenuous climb up and down Stratton. I was bummed but I'd already done Stratton on the AT years ago and this made the most sense to save my legs.
Even during the flat road walk and bypass trail my legs felt awful. I had to keep stopping and rest. Eventually I made it to the shelter for the night where there was a mix of LT and AT thru-hikers. We had a fire, chatted, had some good laughs and called it a night. I was able to run down to the pond just before the sun went below the trees and caught a spectacular sunset on Stratton Pond. A great ending to the day.