In addition to what Spencer just posted, i thought I'd add that we are very grateful for our rather unexpected "trail magic" here in Erwin. We were fully prepared to stay at Uncle Johnny's and continue on our way but were really happy to hear about an offer for a place to stay, etc.
Which brings me to my next thought, if anyone out there reading this happens to live along the AT or has any family or friends that live along the AT that wouldn't mind a few "healthy" smelling college students dropping by for a laundry/shower/meal/sleep recharge, please post a comment on here. Anywhere along the AT from Erwin, TN to Katahdin, ME would be great!
Today Spence and I finally ended up owning our trail names. After running into a Southbound thru-hiker named Rambo Ron that started up north in July 2006 and hasn't stopped yet, i came to the realization that I can use Ben in my name and a little alliteration isn't all that bad. So i began to think of something that would fit using the letter 'B' and the gray bandanna on my head that I've been wearing for the last few hundred miles came to mind. Since it is pretty much taboo to give yourself a trail name i told Spence I had one in mind and if he guessed it, it would stick. Well he did and Bandanna Ben is here to stay. Spencer is going to stick the the trail name Warpzilla that was coined during the GA trip with Troop 215 in 2005. He was always hiking so darn fast that we said it was Warp Godzilla pace, which shortened becomes Warpzilla quite nicely. We've come 338 miles in the last 2 and a half weeks and now we finally have the quintessential Trail Names.
And lastly, the hydration update. On our day up and over Clingman's Dome in the Smokies, water sources were really dry overall and we had a tough time getting enough water early on. We decided to try and ration our water to make it past the Dome and to hopefully a better source on the other side. As we were descending we both noticed a tightening on the same spot on our right leg just above the knee. Long story short, we have attributed this cramping due to improper hydration because our bodies are sweating so much salts during the day that water simply isn't able to replenish it. We hope to remedy this in the future by drinking gatorade and other electrolyte filled sports drinks as we hike and not only water. We will keep the blog updated on the progress of our hydration efforts. So far it has been one of our toughest challenges.
All in all, a great trip so far. We realize that we are a few days behind our planned itinerary but we are making the most miles we safely can and hope to continue to do so. Thanks for all your words and support, they really keep us going.