Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

I think this is the scariest day of the year. This year, at least.

Not because I've seen terrifying costumes or movies or whatnot. I've mostly tuned out of the Halloween hype. It isn't really my thing. In fact-the last time I dressed up was two or three years ago when I dressed as Nymphadora Tonks at college for an evening.

No, I'm terrified, because Nanowrimo starts tomorrow (er, tonight at midnight) and I might know the name of my story and the names of the main characters, but I know NOTHING about them. I don't really know where this story is going and I'm worried that because this is my second year and I won so easily last year that it'll be different this year. I'll get 5K and quit. I don't want to. I like the basis of this story. I feel like it's much better than the last one, more realistic for me to tell it.

But I still have no idea what I'm going to write. And I haven't done ANY research, so a lot of what I say will be made up and will have to be corrected at some point to reflect some historical accuracy.

At least my computer no longer has wireless internet, so when I bring it around to write-ins I can't distract myself by the internet. But I also can't use Write or Die when I'm not home, I can't check wikipedia or google to see some fact or another.

I think I need to spend today getting to know Jesse/Jessamine.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

AT Day 12

Neither of us started out the day believing we would reach the NOC at the end of the day. (Us=Silver & I, as the only residents of the shelter the night before)

We reached it, 16 miles later at 4pm. Instead, we were looking forward to supposed trail magic a few miles north. Sadly, it wasn't there. we theorized the snow storm, since it was obvious he had been (even circle of dry ground surrounded by snow).

we kept going and passed the next shelter, where people were still packing up. It had been full to bursting + tents the night before. I was glad I hadn't gone. We kept going, chatting with some of the other thru-hikers. we took a break on a hill side, letting some pass us and another at a dirt road-side. Pretty. Also, Silver and I were somewhat hiking at the same pace, somewhat at different paces. When we reached wesser shelter, it was too early to stop. We figured we'd go on to the shelter before NOC, stop in briefly at NOC to get stuff and keep going the next day.

I caught up to Silver at that shelter. There was a tree poking through the roof. I could tent-but it seemed just as logical to do the last mile into NOC. I called to make sure there were bunks in the hostel. There were. Good.

We passed the Picnic Sisters-who had passed us while we were at the last shelter and we had passed again. bou was limping because of her shoe. I offered to hike behind her, but she waved me on.

When we reached NOC, it became impossible to find the office where we signed in for a hostel room.

Bou and Fro arrived and we still had trouble-Fro scouted out and eventually, I pointed out a far off buildign that could possibly be it. There was nothing else, so we went there. Indeed, it was. Wow.

Took a little while to sort out rooms-instead of being a large bunk room, it was a bunch of small rooms. Since Bou & Fro were officially hiking together as sisters, we let them bunk together while Silver and I shared a different room. Slightly awkward, but fine.

Had a delicious dinner at the restaurant-good burger and fries.

Decided to take a shower, but was scared off by the dirty disgusting shower stall and no towel.

Then bed.

Monday, October 25, 2010

AT Day 10

I wake up early again-not all of us are heading out, Reverend and Shakes are staying another night-Shakes is slackpacking, so we'll likely see him-but many of us are. We're all ready to go at an early hour of the day, but have to wait for Ron to arrive at the motel. When he does, we all load our packs into the van and take our seats. We go off to the Sapphire inn to pick up some hikers there. Surprise! Count is there as well as another guy who we've not met before. That was exciting.

At the trail head, Ron makes a comment to Bou, Fro & I about admiring us for being female and on the trail. I nod and shrug it off. This won't be the last time I hear something like that and it's just best to keep my mouth shut on these occasions-he gave us a ride and I don't want to seem ungrateful or ruin the service for following hikers.

A majority of the hikers pull ahead quickly. I find it amusing. The day is spent catching up to Silver and dropping back again. Most of the day isn't particularly interesting-there's a lot of snow on the ground, surprsingly. I fall at one point when the snow is packed down and slick. I'm not surprised. We spend fifteen or twenty minutes talking to Shakes and bou & fro catch up to us. A nice morning.

We go on. Silver and I stop at Wayah bald shelter and get water. We eventually figure bou & fro went on to Cold Spring shelter (names are iffy.. I could be wrong). We'll see if we catch them tomorrow-but I'm beat and Silver likes arriving at shelters early. I'm quickly learning why people hate leaving town. Pack is far too heavy.

i try the thai food and am disappointed. will not get that again. There's a brave mouse at this shelter-which is fairly new and my only complaint is the mouse and the huge puddle under the overhang. Not a fan.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

AT Day 10

I still wake up early, despite attempting to sleep in. I eat a piece of pizza-yum! for breakfast and get dressed, heading over to the computers to check my email, see who else is around and up. It ends up that the older man we'd met yesterday invites us to breakfast at a buffet in town (Shoney's). Yum yum, more exciting! We're zeroing today, so food is the focus and resupply.

Silver eats more than I do, but i'm not surprised.. my hiker appetite hasn't truly kicked in. Had pancakes and eggs and sausage and bacon and some fruit and a whole second plate after the first.

It's quite a bit of fun, chatting with both of them. They're both ex-military so they get along really well.

We both check the internet when we get back and hear the desk-host person talking to someone at the trailhead-Isabelle and Natalie!

I don't see them come in, but I see Reverend sitting outside his room a little while later, as well as the two girls. They've gotten trail names-Bou & Fro for Boucherie/Boulangerie and Fromagerie. They're also called the picnic sisters, since they love stopping to eat lunch in a pretty spot. (which makes sense to me!)

At some point, a whole bunch of us stand around in a circle in the parking lot-not that there are any cars coming in-and chat, as only hikers who don't know each other very well can do. Another guy with a dog wanders by and (who i will come to know as) Ghost stands off to the side, quiet-which was very normal behavior for him.

Silver and I go for a walk since I've promised him chocolate as an apology for bugging him/walking in his footsteps. No such luck in finding the chocolate shop.

Along the way to resupply, the picnic sisters, Silver and I all stop at a candy store that has just opened and says they have a free candy stick for hikers. Super exciting! I save mine, intending to have it later on.

The lady takes a picture to send to all of us later on. (When I see it, I'm rather horrified. We all look horrible) Silver gets some ice cream confection of peanut butter and other things.. It looks divine.

I walk back after getting groceries, giving Reverend the stuff he asked for and stowing the rest in my room and watching tv while i re-pack it all.  I call home and call some of my friends and then its time for dinner!

Branch and Appleseed never showed up-so we don't know where they are, but they've probably moved on and not come to town.

So, dinner was myself, silver, bou & fro, shakes & reverend and the man whose name I cannot remember. Our waitress was a former thru-hiker who moved to Franklin to help out with the trail, which I thought was neat. Lori from the Appalachian trail conference was eating dinner a table away, which we all thought very interesting. Reverend asked her about his nude picture that had been taken out of a register-she seemed rather flustered about it. (He covered his private area with an AT metal sign thingy)

The whole time was a lot of fun. I went to sleep early that night and slept well again.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

AT Day 9

I can remember Albert Mtn-we'd heard about a blueblaze but decided to go for the mountain. Steepest thing I'd seen in a while and Silver just scrambled up the thing. I tried not to glare at him. Branch and Appleseed had been just behind us, but they'd slowed earlier. We figured we'd see them again at the shelter.

Met a man called Red ranger. Nice guy, older, and a little odd. We pulled into the shelter after Albert mtn-it was difficult to figure out where the trail went from the top, but eventually I figured it out. Silver had, as usual, pulled ahead. i came up to the shelter just as he was opening his pack, getting something to eat out. Red Ranger was there as well. I offered to share some of my food with silver, but he shrugged. I took some of the jerky he'd gotten at hiawassee. Good stuff.

We continued on and ran into a section of trail that truly felt like a marble ramp. We'd go smoothly down the trail on the side of the hill, do a uturn and go smoothly down in the opposite direction, take a 90 degree turn keep going down at the same angle, do a uturn* and repeat from the *

I thought it was hilarious. Funniest part of the trail i'd seen so far. (Its running about 2nd now. After the flamingo)

When i got to the shelter just after Silver, it was 2pm. Red ranger had already said he was heading for franklin today and Silver and i just had to decide if we wanted to go as well. silver said he was zeroing no matter. Something about his knees. I was undecided, but the shelter looked like shit. Lots of plywood and old and near a road-liable for partying. I had saved for this trip, might as well spend some of it on a nice (well-adequate) hotel room. And for whatever reason, it seemed like a good idea to go today. So off we went.

We crossed Rock Gap and continued on, up the hill. Red Ranger and Silver pull ahead naturally since I'm still very much crap on the uphills (and really always will be). But I catch the both of them as Silver finds a giant white stick. He's trying to break it, make a walking stick out of it. Red Ranger and i watch even though he tells us to go on. This is more entertaining. Eventually, we keep hiking. I somehow pull ahead of Red Ranger and Silver disappears farther on. i enjoy the hike, looking forward to eating pizza and watching crappy tv.

At some point, due to my hurrying, my knee starts twinging. I start worrying that i've done myself in. No more hike done. goodbye.

I limp into the parking lot at winding stair gap (I still think that's the prettiest sounding gap name on the trail) and Silver looks concerned when i whine about my knee. He says he wants his own room-not a surprise and I'm not too worried about it. I know I'm zeroing now-no choice!

When red ranger arrives, I'm already sitting in the snow, trying to ice my knee, having talked to my mom about it.

Red Ranger calls Ron haven of Haven's Budget Inn-in hiker season, he runs scheduled shuttles in the morning, but it's late afternoon and a little early for hiker season. Ron says he'll pick us up when he can-but to call back. We sit there a while and call back just as pulls into the parking lot in his huge blue van (I'm reminded of my family's van that we called Big Blue..only it's bigger). We shove our packs in the back and Ron says we have to pick up some others along the way back at the outfitters. He's brought along a guy whose name I can no longer remember-but he's a nice guy and Silver and I get along quite well with him.

The other three he's picking up are Lucky, Gadget and Lumbar, three older hikers who I've heard of as the triple crowners. Or I will have eventually. In any case, Lumbar's hiked all three trails, i'm not sure what Lucky hiked before, but I think both he and gadget have done the PCT previously. They're pretty intense. Nice guys.

Oh, and I also got my trail name, Crash Course in Winding Stair gap. they were the ones to suggest shortening it to Crash, but Silver came up with it.

We get to the motel and sign in. Red Ranger gets the last non-smoking room, they offer to move us to a different motel, but we'd rather stay close to the other hikers, and have a brief, silent standoff over who gets the room that smells less like smoke. Silver eventually concedes and I feel bad.. briefly. I get my package, sign all the paperwork, pay and lug my stuff over to my room, next to Silver's.

Its rather lonely, having my own motel room, but I spread out all my stuff and turn the shower on. I wait for it to get warm. And I wait. Finally, I turn it off, trundle back to the office and complain. Silver's already out of the shower, the lucky bastard and looks at me funny when I say I can't get any hot water. They suggest waiting longer. So I do. And eventually, the hot water comes, thank god. I shower, scrubbing myself and actually enjoying the fact that i don't have to worry about anyone else needing to shower as well. It is definitely a nice luxury after the Blueberry Patch in Hiawassee-which was wonderful, but a hostel all the same.

I go back to take the other computer in the office reserved for internet checking and check my email, twitter. Silver and i both decide pizza in our respective motel rooms is on the menu for the night. He offers to order and i give him money for it. I go back to my room, lie on the bed and watch bad tv, enjoying it fully. The pizza arrives and I eat half of it right away and another piece later on. I can't finish it all, but that's ok. Its nice to be lying on a bed in a warm motel room and watching tv.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

AT Day 8

It was a cozy warm shelter all night. And by cozy, I mean every time i moved, I bumped into either Appleseed or Silver. I leave just after Branch, Appleseed and Silver. Reverend remarks that we sure are early risers and leavers. Isabelle and Natalie agree. They're all heating up breakfast and part of me would like to do that, but another part really just wants to get the miles in.

Plus I don't have breakfast to cook.

I hike on my own for a while, catching up to the others at a dirt road crossing where they're all eating snacks. Silver leaves several minutes before me and i catch up with him, surprising myself. However-like the day going into hiawassee, he was intentionally hiking slowly so as not to dehydrate himself. I hiked with him most of the day, stepping in his footsteps and (so I learned later) annoying him by not giving him enough space. I couldn't help it. I had a ton of energy for no apparent reason. We ate lunch on a rock in the sun with a nice view of the mountains around us. It was a beautiful day.

We're the first to the shelter and I say I can get water for Silver-his water filter's still broken-as I did earlier in the day. The water is way the **** down there, but its got this beautiful little pipe coming out of the ground (deceiving at first, since it looks like a dried up mud puddle) with crystal clear water!!

We spend the afternoon enjoying the sun, attempting to dry as much stuff as possible. I discovered snacks I had taken from the hiker box tasted like the laundry. whoops. Appleseed agreed after assuring me she'd take them and then giving them back.

Again, it is a full shelter, but we're all laughing and being entertained by each other, so it's not a big deal.

At Day 6

Everyone wakes up early and mills around, waiting for breakfast to be ready. We're invited too eat on their porch-it is a gorgeous place, you can see the mountains outside and the table is a rock-steady wood table (old, too I think) and the room is just beautifully decorated.

It's an amazing breakfast, pancakes, sausage, eggs and hashbrowns. It'll definitely keep me going for most of the day. Afterwards, they give us envelopes for the donation-where some of us hurry back to get the cash out of our packs. Natalie and i talk about how much is appropriate, since there's no set amount.

After breakfast, we all squash into Gary's jeep, stowing the packs on the top. When we reach the trail head, i am the first up into the woods, followed shortly by Silver, Branch & Appleseed. I let Silver pass when he catches up, about a half-mile to a mile in. Branch and Appleseed catch up a little ways later and I step over to let them pass-Appleseed is surprised, she was happy to be hiking behind me. But it soon becomes clear these two are born to hike. they're moving at a very good pace. Silver and I-somehow I'm keeping up relatively for the time being-pass an older man who says it looks like the two in front of us are flying, feet not touching the ground. We agree.

At a certain point, it seems as if we are doing the out, around, back that becomes so familiar on the AT for a while. And a few hours in, Silver having pulled ahead, I catch up with him, eating a snack at the GA/NC sign. w00t! Done with one state, twelve more to go! I take a picture and as I'm getting ready to leave, after eating a snack, Isabelle and Natalie show up. I offer to take their picture, saying i don't need to leave immediately.

I pass the old tree that looks funny-someone had mentioned it to us-and another trail. There didn't appear to be broken trail, but i found out later that Rooster & Snowwhite and some others must have used the trail, because they had to evac. a girl with an injured ankle. Rooster got his original name because he broke trail down that trail-Snowplow.

Eventually, I reach the shelter. It is a quite pretty location and I have  a feeling it would be even prettier in the full bloom of spring. Rhododendrons, the stream flowing nicely and the shelter itself isn't in too bad shape. Chat with Silver.

Everyone filters in-Branch and Appleseed took a side trail to the top of a mountain-and we meet a man going by Reverend-his nervous tic is crossing himself, he's not religious. He's charming and fun, but a smoker. He's thru-hiked several times already and just felt like getting back on trail. We meet Shakes soon after-an older guy with a slight potbelly who shakes when he laughs-which is often. Also a wonderful person. The shelter is full with Shakes tenting.

We discover Reverend is a  snorer. Dinner is full of camaraderie.

I should note that I remember the section between Hiawassee and franklin with some of the most fondness-the snow wasn't horrifyingly hard to hike in and everyone got along really really well.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

AT Day 6

We all got up around the same time, packing our stuff. I futzed bout, trying to melt some snow, as I was low on water. I didn't waste too much time doing that, packing up my backpack, shivering into my frozen shirts. Big Sky left earlier with Appleseed and Branch. I felt bad-I knew I was slow the day earlier and that was hard.

I left shortly after SIlver, before the picnic sisters. Followed the fresh tracks, cursing all of the blow downs and obstacles that had been created because of the snow storm the day earlier. Eventually, I saw someone in the distance. I was bewildered. I know I'm slow. It took a while, but I caught up with Silver-he was going slowly to slow down the dehydration process, as he had not gotten water the night before either. I saw tracks coming from a camping area, wondering who the hell would want to camp the night before in that snow storm.

I kept bumping into Silver as the day passed on and eventually, we reached the gap at the same time. Neither of us really wanted to hitch, so I called the Blueberry Patch, just to check and see if they were open yet. Indeed, they were and Gary could come pick us up! Fantastic!

We didn't go into town-but I didn't need to and Silver didn't absolutely have to. Spent the afternoon doing laundry and enjoying being dry and warm. It was fantastic and relaxing to do nothing. We went to the church dinner that night-all six of us (a first for all hostel guests to go) and I had so much food-the first large amount of food I'd eaten at all and it was delicious. I was so grateful for their giving.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

AT Day 5

I wake up and at first, it's dark. And slowly, i feel it should be getting lighter-its about that time. So I look out of my sleeping bag, peering into the gloom. It's hard to see, hard to see anything. For some reason, it takes a while to realize that part of the reason nothing is crystal clear is not because its too dark or because my eyes are failing-its because its snowing. i hadn't really expected that. There was already an inch or two on the ground and so I packed up, ate my honey nut cheerios bar and headed out with Big Sky who wanted to hike with someone for safety sake. (Which turned out really good for me)

We did the first 5 miles in two hours. I was truly enjoying the snow, and the trail, not finding it particularly difficult. As soon as we reached the next shelter-the turn off to it at least, I started wearing out. The snow was deeper-drifts up to our knees-and I was wet and cold. Eventually, we made it down to the gap to Helen GA where cars were slowly making their way over the gap. there was a semi pulled off in the parking lot and we kept going.

It was SO hard to keep my legs moving, but it wasn't safe to stop, not before getting to the next shelter. Eventually we came to where I'd originally planned on staying-the campground a couple miles before the shelter. Not safe, not the way the snow was, not with my tarptent (Lunar solo). My only goal was to keep Big Sky in sight (he stopped to wait for me every once in a while). Kept going, kept pushing. Finally reached a gathering of vehicles-they moved for us, but sadly, no trail magic, despite looking rather pathetic.

Big Sky asked about the camping area we'd passed and i guess my answer must have been garbled or something, because he seemed to think I was telling him that we hadn't reached it yet AND still had another 2.5 miles to go after it. (15 mile day) I shook my head. No. We'd passed it a little ways back, so now we were under 2.5 miles. Good. He looked relieved. After what seemed like forever, we passed over the top of trey mountain (I was unimpressed. it was somewhat wooded and there was snow everywhere and i couldn't see shit-what a surprise!) and eventually made our way down to the turn off to the shelter. I was exhausted and it seemed to take forever to even reach the shelter.

Finally it came into view. i surprised silver-he hadn't expected to see anyone else. Arrogance to a certain extent on his part. Met a young couple called Branch and Appleseed. Said we hadn't seen anyone else on trail all day, Silver's tracks were snowed over with at least a half inch to an inch of snow, we didn't know where everyone was behind us. I quickly changed, accepted a few crackers from silver and ate those and some of my crackers. Could not make myself eat more and felt horrid that I wasn't up to making food for Big Sky like I'd promised. (I still regret that)

Eventually, two more figures appeared out of the gloom-Natalie and Isabelle. We all talked about the options of where to go the next day. Everyone seemed convinced that a stop in Hiawassee was needed. It was too cold, everything was too wet that the opportunity for a place to dry off and warm up was far too tempting.

I worried about how I'd get into town, but figured I'd reason it out when i got to the gap. Got in my sleeping bag, texted my brother and went to sleep.

Friday, October 15, 2010

AT Day 4

I wake up way earlier than I need to-just before 7. Other people are up and I don't like being asleep when others are awake around me. Freaks me out. However, the outfitters doesn't open until 9 or 10 and I have to wait until they're open so I can grab some extra food and get those rain pants. I twiddle my thumbs as others make their way out. It takes a while at the store too-I wanted to try on backpacks so I did that and that took a while. Eventually beat it out of there, heading for Low Gap shelter. Clouded over, but a beautiful day. I took a picture on the top of a hill and tweeted it. I descended to a gap where I see some other hikers-maybe I've met them?-huddled off in a corner, unrecognizable as well as some teens. I skirt them and continue on my way. To me, it seems odd, disquieting to see this paved road in the middle of nowhere. I wonder where the teens came from. I keep going up the hill, it switchbacks quite a bit, which i am very grateful for. After a while, I reach another road. Check my guidebook-from what I can interpret..there's another road in a ways a couple miles before the shelter. I keep going. And going. Where is the road?!

Finally, I come down one last hill and there is the shelter. Mis-read the guidebook. No road. just a gap. I pass a tent set up and find Big Sky, Myaaka & Silver all sitting in the shelter, in their sleeping bags. I hurriedly set mine up and shove my jacket on, turning to get water and then make my dinner at the picnic table (I didn't learn to appreciate them until they disappeared somewhere around Vermont. Almost like they don't exist north of massachusetts). Count is there eating his dinner-he's the one with the tent on the trail down to the shelter. I shiver, but eat my food-savoring the warmth of it.

Turns out Count's friend hurt his knee and had to leave the trail. The other one comes trailing in an hour or so later. The picnic sisters come in after, grousing about the money-hogging at Neel's Gap. I have to agree-they were definitely trying to sell what I didn't need (but-looking back, I should have gotten that backpack). We cram into the shelter, shoulder to shoulder hoping to keep warm. Very glad to have the dayhikers decide to tent rather than force us into an even more crowded situation. I like close warmth but I don't wanna get too friendly with these people I've barely met.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

AT Day 3

I wake up to the sound of others moving around and slip out of bed, trying not to wake everyone else up.
This morning, I truly learned to appreciate the joy of a full breakfast-french toast, hashbrowns, eggs. (this was probably the most calories I ate in one sitting until i reached Hiawassee, GA). Since there were so many people going so many places, I had to wait awhile until they were ready to drive myself and an older woman who had been averaging 5 miles a day back to Woody Gap. My goal was to reach Neel's gap and stay at the Walasi-Yi center-the only place where the trail passes under a roof and the first outfitter on trail. I started off walking with the older woman-Nancy but soon pulled ahead, enjoying the walk. As Josh & Leigh of the hiker hostel had said, the first part of the 10 miles was relatively easy-no super challenging ups or downs.

I was slowly going along when an older man catches up with me. His name is Big Sky and he's a thru-hiker! And he actually looks legit. Woo!! I didn't mind that he was older or that he seemed odd. He was legit and I hadn't met someone actually hiking who seemed to have the determination to thru-hike. He hiked behind me for a bit until I pulled off to the side to eat a snack and rest my legs. On an uphill (worst place I could do it, but I was slowing down badly and I didn't want to hold him back). I kept going, passing the shelter before blood mountain. It started to get more snowy/icy and I passed the blue blaze around blood mountain, thinking that i would be fine. Not so much. I met a couple of day hikers, chatted with them, consulted my map and looked at the looming up. It looked icy and I knew the other side of Blood Mtn was practically straight down and likely to be just as icy. I wasn't going to tempt fate, not this early in the trip.

I turned around, following the voices of the day hikers. And it became clear after a bit that they were talking with someone else-who made his way around them, bumping into me (at this point, I'd caught up). I said i was a thru-hiker-Emily, no trail name yet. He said he was Silver, caught himself and said Steven. I wondered why-I didn't need to know his real name. He already had a trail name and I didn't need to know his real name. He turned around as well, when I'd said the slope up blood mtn looked rather slick and icy.

We chatted for a while, but then he kept pulling ahead. I didn't care, perfectly fine at being slower. Eventually, I reached the Walasi-Yi center, chatted with an older couple who were finishing up a day hike before wandering inside. The place was... overwhelming to say the least. Crowded with old boots hanging from everywhere, clif bars and snacks crammed next to books, magazines and swiss army knives-not necessarily true, but it illustrates the idea. Backpacks crammed in next to each other all on a wall, tents on the wall next to it, little bits of gear in another nook. I took the opportunity to get a 'shake-down' of my gear. Turned out I didn't need it after all (but looking back, I really should have gotten a new backpack). I ended up spending most of the afternoon sitting there to be told I had a good amount of stuff in my backpack at an acceptably light weight. woo.hoo. Missed getting a pizza so I ate a trail meal instead. I stayed in the hostel with a bunch of other would-be thru-hikers: Isabelle and Natalie (who would become Fro & Bou after Fromagerie and boucherie/boulangerie), Count (whose real name I can't remember & his two friends.. whose names I can't remember for reasons that will become quite clear in the next few posts), and Myaaka.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

AT Day 2

I wake up just after sunrise, shivering. Not really surprising, as a combination of nerves and cold (It's below freezing) kept seeping into my bag, waking me up. I have a zero degree, but I'm worried, because it doesn't seem to be keeping me warm (This was the only time that happened). I finally manage to convince myself to get up because if I don't, I sure as hell am not going anywhere. And since I only brought so much food, I can't just stay in my sleeping bag all day. (Though I'm sure I could have survived there for a day or two before moving) Also, what the hell would I do, just lying there? I pack as much as I can from my sleeping bag and then keep my down jacket on as I pack the rest. I make the annoying trek down to the water again, standing precariously on slippery rocks over ice cold water and snow-if I fall, I could get hypothermic.

Finally done with that, I slip and slide my way back to the shelter and eat breakfast. I move hurriedly-its still frickin' cold and I'm shivering. The milk from the granola with blueberries is icing over almost as soon as I add the water. It's an interesting experience. I eat as much as I can-my appetite has sallied on over the hill and plonked itself down far from where I can reach it. I'm not eating even CLOSE to what I needed, energy wise.

A few more minutes are spent shivering, packing the rest of the stuff into my backpack, consulting my guidebook one more time (I was quickly learning just how often I would be looking at those pages). Before today, I hadn't decided exactly where I was going to go. i only knew I wanted to be at Neel's Gap on my third day. I confirmed what I'd decided the night before-head for Woody gap and stay at the hiker's hostel. 12 miles-not the longest I'd ever hiked (14.5 in Massachusetts on my section)-but a tad intimidating for my second day out! I got going. A half mile in, I passed two people camped on the rise of a hill/mtn. Didn't know who they were, but thought they had been the two I'd met the day before (they weren't). The hiking was a lot of steep up, steep down. I met a group of (japanese?) day/section hikers (Dayhikers became a term to refer to anyone not long-distance hiking-ie those out for the weekend or a week) on the way down to a stream, nodded my hello and kept on moving. Noted the camping area I'd thought about going for the day before and was glad I hadn't. Took too long to get to. The trail seemed to be doing something i would become quite familiar with-up, out, around and back. picture a snake. Kindof like that. At least, it felt like that!!

After a while, i reached Gooch Gap Shelter. checked my watch. 12:40. Definitely too early to stop. 5 miles to go to Woody Gap. I ate a clif bar and a handful of goldfish and some mint milanos. (As I may have mentioned-thru-hikers don't eat so healthy usually) Packed up again and kept moving. The hiker hostel had a scheduled pick up at 5 pm and i wanted to be there. I moved steadily-the hiking wasn't too difficult, just a bit treacherous here and there with slick patches of old snow.

Didn't meet too many people today. A few were camping at gooch gap and I met a dayhiker close to woody gap with his dog. Didn't drink enough water or eat enough...but that isn't that surprising.

Arrived at Woody gap at 4pm. Didn't realize I could use my cell phone to call for a ride so I sat in the setting sun-constantly moving to stay in the sun as it was just a tad warm to dig and get my down jacket out until 5:10 when Leigh from the Hiker Hostel arrived, recognizing me. I arrived to a hostel that looked FAR different from the one I'd seen before. Before, it had one guest. Now it seemed overflowing. There were people almost everywhere. A bunch of would-be thru-ers like me who I sat with in the living area, stretching my muscles and enjoying the hopeful chatter on their parts. They were all so.. hopeful. Leigh or Josh said they could immediately see (not smell?) the difference between those who had been hiking for a few days and those who hadn't. The difference was barely discernible. Something about how those who had been hiking moved and viewed the trail-something less of idealism but still mixed with the new excitement of a new adventure.

Ate a trail dinner, not wanting to waste money on food when i had some. Found myself questioning why i would buy flavored tortellini. They were ... not good.

Stretched, watched mindless television, debated gear and went to sleep.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

AT Thru-hike Day 1

A dear family friend suggested I write everything I can remember of my thruhike down before I start forgetting details. I'm going to do it on this blog.
I'm shivering, standing in the gravel parking lot as a group of guys looks on. The van peels away, leaving me standing there, looking at my backpack and then frantically searching for.. something. I can't remember what. Probably gloves. I felt FREEZING. Part of it was definitely nerves-I recognized that even at the time. I ran into some.. day hikers? weekend-ers? also heading south, passed them (looking back, i'm shocked. I was shocked then too. I was completely out of shape) and continued on to the top of Springer Mtn.

When I arrived on Springer mtn, I discovered that it was somewhat.. anticlimactic. A wooded summit with only a few views. I could NOT find the register box-I'd read about where it was, but for the life of me, I couldn't find it and i really needed to go to the privy at the shelter. So, I gave up on it and turned north.

After the privy, I easily found my way down to the USFS road again, passing the same guys who had been there before, pausing to greet their dog before continuing on my way.

Sadly, the dog decided that i was its new best friend and followed me. I went back once and told them that-that they should tie the dog up, it was following me. they called it back and it didn't follow me again, at first. A ways later, it suddenly showed up again. I shooed it away, back in the direction of where they were.

I passed the second shelter (approx. 2 miles in) and decided not to visit it. It did not seem particularly interesting to me-I had no need of water.

I experienced a phenomenon this first day that i would often again-Hurry up and get there! (But be bored when you do) I arrived at Hawk Mtn Shelter around 2pm and met two other people who were attempting thru-hikes. They  moved on after a while, intending to get a ride from the hiker's hostel-i decided i didn't want to do that, but didn't feel comfortable w/the amount of time before dark to reach the next campground. So I stayed put. i was terrified i'd spend the night alone, but it turns out i didn't have to. Around 5, people started showing up. All section hikers, but there was an enjoyable evening of a fire and chatter.
The guys I had seen earlier showed up without their dog. The dog wandered off and they spent FIVE minutes looking for it. I was disgusted. At least spend half an hour looking for your DOG. Took a sleeping pill and went to sleep.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Challenge: October!

Welcome to the new month!

I have a few knitting projects I'm currently working on-the second baby bootie to match the first one so both feet on a baby can be warm. Unfortunately, the needle elves have stolen my size 1 knitting needle that was not currently attached to the yarn. I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Also, today was the first day of my October challenge: Run 125 miles in the month. I ran 3.6 today and thought it was four until I returned home and mapped it. I now have to find an extra half mile somewhere... And some extra miles so I can take a no-run day here and there, which would be nice.