As the impacts of hiking day after day had begun to sink into our group, we decided to take today at a very deliberate pace.
We began with an ascent of Standing Indian Mountain, our first over 5,000 feet (5,498 to be precise). It could not have gone more smoothly–a long, gently uphill path with easy terrain. It was quite peaceful up there in the morning sun and certainly set the tone for the rest of the day.
The next 12 miles were similarly pleasant–warm and sun-filled with terrain “suitable for a bike path” as our fellow thruhiker Hickory would say.
Willett had a bit of trouble navigating this stream crossing, one of few hiccups in the afternoon. When faced with the prospect of falling behind the pack, however, he whimpered twice and leapt heroically from log to log.
The last two miles of the day brought an abrupt change in terrain. Our wide, flat path turned into a rocky scramble as we made our way up Albert Mountain. We knew the summit had a fire tower and kept scanning the horizon for which mountain would be our next challenge.
We camped shortly after the summit and anticipate arriving in Franklin, NC in time for lunch tomorrow. Mmm.