The birds woke me up as it was getting light this morning, about 6am. This has been a fairly reliable alarm: enthusiastic bird sounds and early morning light.

I had a 6-mile hike downhill to the Nantahala Outdoor Center for resupply before continuing on for the next several days. 

The trail downhill was awash in blooming mountain laurel. 

The trail crossed a bridge right in the middle of the NOC complex. The restaurants were not open until 11am so I just went to the General Store where I charged my phone and organized myself for the next several days. There was a limited supply of things I wanted, but I made do with what they had. I also bought a couple things to eat right away so I could start again on a full stomach. 

It was a nice afternoon and the trail ascended to a series of “balds,” most of which were bald in name only. The final one, Wayah Bald, had a beautiful stone lookout tower with views in every direction. 

I went a couple more miles to a tentsite with spring. Again, I was the only one there. The bulk of the northbound hikers are well past me now. I still see a few per day, plus section hikers, but nothing like several weeks ago where dozens of NOBO thru hikers crossed paths with me daily. It’s back to a fairly quiet hike. 

— May 25, 2019

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