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I finally did it. I had my first entire day alone. I decided to break off from the group for a bit and I ended up doing my biggest day yet at 24.3 miles! I'm absolutely exhausted but I feel amazing.
I started the day having breakfast with Sarah and chatting over a morning fire. She told me this morning that I'm her best guy friend, which felt nice. It's still weird to me how fast you become connected with everyone out here. The first few hours passed quickly since I decided to call my sister and chat for a while. I also called Peanut and filled them in. I'm hoping we catch them soon. They're about 20 miles ahead of me right now.
I crossed the 600 mile marker early morning which felt awesome. Around lunch I hit a road and walked to Trent's Grocery. It was a gas station and general store in the middle of nowhere. I ordered some food and hung out with Brownie and her hiking partner. After getting back on the trail I started to feel awful. My stomach hurt so bad and I could barely walk. I ended up having diarrhea again and felt terrible. I've also somehow developed what looks like an infection on my belly button since it somehow was cut open (maybe thorns?) and now looks infected. I wonder if there's any connection. We're going to meet Aidan's parents in the next town and I think I'll have them take me to a walk in clinic.
I felt some separation anxiety being alone and away from the group today but I expected that. I was hoping to have a camp to myself tonight but when I arrived here after dark, in the rain, there was already a tent here. I decided to just stay regardless. I'll get my chance again soon. I'm so tired but I'm happy to be dry and warm in my tent tonight.
I really enjoyed today. I did around 17 miles. I woke in the rain and all my gear was covered with honey bees which was weird. I got started and shortly afterward was waiting out a storm in a shelter. About midday I stopped at a hostel that was right off trail. Mom sent me a package there filled with homemade cookies and trail bars. The hostel seemed quite culty which solidified my choice to not stay there. I pushed on and carried the cookies on top of my pack which was a bit awkward but it worked. I wanted to be able share them with Aidan and Sarah but they weren't at the hostel still. I hiked onto some power lines before Pearisburg and saw an amazing rainbow. The sky was so pink and vibrant. It felt magical.
I spent a lot of time thinking today and I worked through some important issues in my head. My dad has been dating someone for a while and at first I'd been really averse to it since it seemed too soon after his 20 year marriage with my stepmom. I've argued with him about it and haven't accepted her. Today I decided that it's his life and that I would accept that he's with her and meet her. I thought more about my feelings toward Sarah. It's weird how a day away can make me feel so secure and independent but I feel much more grounded in my choice to remain only friends. Maybe I should take more days to myself like this. Life is so good out here. I feel so happy, free, and whole.