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We woke this morning in the tower after a great night's sleep. It was warm and out of the wind. We woke before sunrise and sat on the porch to watch the sun come up. The sun had a deep red color to it and as it came up through the clouds there were golden rays shooting out. I've seen many sunrises but I think this tops them all. I'm so glad we decided to stay here last night.
We left camp around 7:30am and finally hiked out of the smokies. It was a long and steep descent so it was slow going. When we finally reached the bottom of the descent we decided to hike to the "Standing Bear" hostel. There were lots of hikers there when we arrived and I was feeling like I needed more time to myself so I ended up getting a quick resupply and left before everyone else. I hiked only a few miles and then stopped to set up camp. The rest of the group showed up though MP apparently was having some knee issues so she stayed back.
Tomorrow is supposed to be a bigger day around 18 miles and then we'd have a short day into Hot Springs. We ended up booking a house with a hot tub and I'm so excited! We'll have all of us up there for a couple zero days. We had such a nice time around the fire tonight. It was full of funny stories and good laughs. It feels so nice to be sharing this experience with such a great group of people.
Today marks the longest day yet which was about 18 miles. It was yet another beautiful day with lots of climbs and I finally I feel like I have my trail legs. I didn't take any Ibuprofen today and only had minor knee pain but that's it. I hiked alone pretty much the entire day and it was exactly what I needed. We ended up climbing the long awaited "Max Patch Bald" and it was beautiful. It was such a deep green color. When we got to the top it started hailing on us so we didn't stay long. While we were there Samwise set us his yoga mat as a wind shield so he could cook ramen out of the wind. It stuck two trekking poles in the ground and wedged the mat in between them. When I told him I thought he was a "genius" he promptly corrected me and said he was a "visionary" instead.
Shortly after climbing down Max Patch I stopped for a break which was cut short by a thunder storm. I ended up jogging because I didn't like being exposed to the lightning. We're only 13 miles form Hot Springs tonight. Samwise decided to push on to Hot Springs tonight in the dark and by himself. I'm completely exhausted otherwise I'd like to join him. Today was a good day.