One of the things I was hoping to gain from hiking 2,200 miles was more of a sense of connection to the land.  To walk through the forest as the seasons change day by day and really feel it, rather than watch from inside as I work all day.

And over the last few days, even though the species are unfamiliar, I can see the signs that Beltane is approaching.  We’re seeing more and more bumblebees, and yesterday we walked all day through an endless carpet of white and pink flowers that I’m told are called May Apple.

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At one point we turned a corner of the trail and suddenly found ourselves surrounded by enormous black butterflies with blue bums doing some sort of joyous Beltane butterfly Bacchanalia… I think I actually gasped aloud like some sort of soppy Disney character.  Luckily there was no one there  to laugh at me but Pan, who was distracted by all the butterflies at the time.

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And so we passed by Nantahala river in the pouring rain, climbed up and up and up some mountains in the blazing sun, and now find ourselves at Fontana Village Resort, near the huge Fontana dam, taking a day of rest in a little cabin, trying to even out our gratuitous hiker tans, and planning a little Beltane ritual tonight before we head off into the Great Smokey Mountains tomorrow.  We’ll be thinking of those at home also celebrating, and raising a glass to you all.

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In other news, I wanted to share with you the weirdness of trying to eat enough food out here.  I’ve complained in the past about other blogs talking of food all the time, but it has to be mentioned that it is ridiculously difficult to take in enough calories to compensate for all the strenuous activity.  Pan and I scour supermarkets for the lightest weight, most high calorie things we can find. It seems so odd to be saying ‘which hot chocolate should we get? Oh, this one has more calories per cup, so we’ll get that’. I hear rumours of people just buying olive oil and adding it to everything to up the calorie content – we may yet have to resort to that!  Eating the most enormous 16oz steaks whenever we hit a town and eating peanut butter straight from the jar hasn’t stopped us from losing weight, so more snacks it is. This makes for very heavy backpacks after resupply day…  And a very heavy bear bag to hang in the trees at night!

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Beltane love to you all and I’ll Pupdate you after the Smokies!

Pup and Pan xx

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