I keep finding myself here: awake at three in the morning. Charlie is wedged in the crook of one elbow, Dylan to my right, Bandit licking at himself on the floor.

The side of my foot hurts. I trip a lot. Probably stepped on a rock the wrong way. That’s going to be annoying.

I don’t know why this is always where I end up. I guess it’s the Virgo or the Pastry Chef or the Mom in me that can’t stop running through the list of things to accomplish in so very, very little time.

I keep unclenching my jaw, though I don’t recall clenching it to begin with. My dentist would be disappointed.

My stomach hurts. Though that could be from the cake. I just had a birthday. I’m twenty-five now.

We’re heading back out in the morning. 9 am shuttle back to the Flume Gorge Visitor Center, then a mile back up to the actual AT. We have less than 27 miles to the next town of Glencliff, at which point we will be officially done with “The Whites.” They say it gets easier then; but someone is always saying that.

It never really seems to. Just presents different versions of difficult.

I called some recruiters back today. I updated my resume and my LinkedIn and made accounts on a couple job sites, trying to be proactive for Winter jobs, y’know. One said “thanks, no thanks,” because I didn’t want to start right away and couldn’t commit till May; the other two I left voicemails for, but they’re out of state and you don’t really relocate when you plan to quit in the early spring anyway to go finish a Thru Hike.

Anyone hiring for the winter? I learn fast, I’m great with kids and Excel, and I wasn’t coddled so I don’t need a lot of hand holding. Weeee job skills.

Maybe I should look into nannying. Where does one find a gig like that. Preferably in South Florida because I think if we go back to Orlando we might not go back to the trail. It was hard enough to leave the first time.

Charlie makes really cute grumbly noises in his sleep. Like a little old man.

I’m sorry I’ve been really delayed in getting a post up. You guys deserve better than that. I have several in my head, but just haven’t seem to have found the time to really get them down on the ‘ol cell phone. I haven’t forgotten though. That’s why I keep my trail journal.

There’s cookie dough in the fridge. I need to bake that. I bought it to eat, before I knew there was cake.

My adorable mom sent a box of decorations to the hostel we are at and called to pay for our room and one of the incredible staff members paid for a bottle of wine (which I thought I was picking out for her boss). So we came back from the store and there were balloons and pinwheels everywhere, and a photo booth.

Damn, if I knew this was my birthday party, I’d have just gotten Totinos Party Pizzas. Those things are bomb. The pork came out well, though.

I’m sorry this is so stream of consciousness. And that I keep apologizing so much. I don’t like feeling like I’m disappointing someone.

I spend a lot of time on the trail apologizing. It’s dumb. I think it’s just the ingrained hospitality nonsense, at this point. “Sorry for stopping short on that ascent.” “Sorry for not getting off trail in time for you, passerby.” “Sorry for needing so many breaks.” “Sorry for kicking you in the face, Bandit.”

That last one is his fault. He tends to walk right on my heels. Poor dude. If only I could explain the clumsiness in my genes and why I should be given a three foot buffer at all times.

I’m gonna try to sleep again. We might come back into town again, after the Kinsmans, so we don’t have to do a lot of miles tomorrow. They’re full till Sunday night. We could feasibly do the Kinsmans tomorrow, 9-10 Miles including the one back to trail, and then 6-7 in to town on Sunday. We don’t like going in late but our resupply would be done already and then it’s only about a day and a half to Glencliff.

I wish I was asleep right now. I guess I’ll try again, though I’m about ready to give up. My head hurts, and my stomach is still upset. It’s not the cake though. It just gets a certain way when I don’t sleep.

Night kids. Thanks for trying to keep up with my special brand of neurotic.

Much love,