Saturday, April 19, 2008

I've Been Slimed!

After the knee-deep creek crossing, I was ready to quit for the day. Except for two things: One, I didn't have anymore reading material to entertain me for the next four hours, and two, a couple of miles of hiking would help dry out my shoes and feet from the creek crossing.

So on I hiked, and a couple of miles futher along, there was ANOTHER knee-deep creek crossing, which annoyed me even more. Haven't they heard of bridges in Georgia?

I hiked a few more miles, mostly drying out my shoes in the process, and finally decided to set up camp alongside a remote forest road I'd been following.

I walked off trail up a ridge to a level area to check out, when I noticed a tarp set up on the other side of the ridge. Although I couldn't see the person in it, I knew it could only be one person.


He looked down towards the trail, a natural assumption, but I was above him on the ridge having already started looking for a place to camp. Great minds think alike, as they say. =)

I set up camp near Mortis, where we traded war stories from our days on the Appalachian Trail. I had figured Mortis was probably a good five miles ahead of me, so it was a nice surprise to see him right where I was looking for a place to camp. =)

In another news, the padding in my Sears shoes has started deteriorating at a remarkably fast rate. Even by Payless standards, these shoes are falling apart faster than anticipated, but I'm going to try pushing them the 150 or so miles I have left to Springer Mountain.

I've started stuffing my shoes with leaves to create more padding. So far, it seems to be working, though each day I've had to add a bit more stuffing as the leaves grow more compact after a long day of hiking. It seems a bit absurd to be stuffing my shoes with leaves--Mortis joked, "What next? Making your shoes out of bark?" But it's results that count, and if the normal padding with the shoe is coming apart, by golly, I'll replace it with squished up leaves.

The next morning, Mortis was packed and on the trail before I even had time to roll over and wave goodbye. Very early riser, he is!

I didn't realize it at the time, but rolling over wasn't the best thing for me to do. When I finally rubbed my eyes and started to get ready for the day, I noticed a bunch of slime all over my hat and a snail that seemed to be resting in the middle of it. Very gross.

I shook out the snail and set the hat aside--I wasn't going to wear it until it had a thorough cleaning!

Then I saw it--a crushed snail, directly under me. It must have cozied up to me during the night, and at some point, I rolled over in my sleep and crushed the poor thing to death.

I did not morn over the loss the snail, accidental and untimely though it may have been, but it was a BIG snail and made quite the mess when it got squashed.

I tried scraping off the remains with leaves, but oh it was gross.

Later searches found additional snails, some large, some small, hiding out in various pieces of gear. One small tree snail crawled to the top of one of my water bottles, and I vowed never to drink out of that one again. It even left a snail turd on the bottle, which surprised me because I don't think I've ever seen a snail turd before.

This area, at least, appeared to have a bad snail infestation!

After putting on my socks, I felt an unnatural lump at the bottom of one foot and immediately freaked out, yanking off the sock. It was a false alarm, though. Just an ugly looking caterpiller--not another snail.

The wildlife, I have to say, was not impressing me.

The day started dreary and foggy, and I hiked out to Johns Mountain Lookout, where I looked out and took a pretty hazy photo of fog. Then I hiked down to Keown Falls, a nice little waterfall that people can actually hike behind--but I didn't bother. I've hiked behind lots of waterfalls in the Pacific Northwest, but it was the most impressive waterfall I'd seen on my hike to date, so don't misunderstand me. It was nice. *nodding*

The trail meandered over a couple of mountains, and I ended up putting in about 20 miles for the day, camping for the night on Hurricane Mountain.

I only need to average about 15 miles per day to reach Springer Mountain on time, but I figured to hike into the town of Dalton the next morning and spend the day there. It didn't matter how many miles I did today since I'd still end up in Dalton at the end of the next day regardless.

And without any reading material, I really had nothing better to do than spend the whole day hiking. I took many breaks, chatted with numerous folks--on foot, bike, and horseback--who were out enjoying the afternoon. Which cleared up quite nicely once the morning fog burned off, I might add.

In camp for the night, I took care of my feet--rubbing them down and clipping my toenails (important to clip them often if you don't want them to fall off during wet weather). I made dinner (mashed potatoes with a mix of peanut and almond M&Ms for desert). Then I stitched a small section of my pack where a seam is starting to unravel. The seam was still holding together, but I didn't trust it to last much longer and felt the preventative measure was necessary. I just need to string my pack along for just ten more days.

I also added more leaves as padding to my shoes. =)

I got a lot done.

It's now 8:30 at night. The sun set a half hour ago, and there's a glow on the horizon where it went down. I can hear traffic towards the east, which isn't surprising since I-75 is down there somewhere. Funny to be running into this road again--it was the first Interstate I had crossed on my trip, in the south of Florida known as Alligator Alley. I crossed it a second time while nearing the panhandle of Florida. And now, over 1500 miles later, we will meet again in Dalton.

I have high hopes for Dalton. It sounds like a fairly large town, at least as far as trail towns go, and I find myself wishing and hoping there's a huge bookstore I can lose myself in all day. Maybe go see a movie tomorrow night if I can find a theater as well. Spoil myself. =)

We'll find out... tomorrow.....

Oh, as for my hat--I did wash it very thoroughly in the first water source I came along. The snail slime is gone, but you can still see some slime on my sleeping bag where I rolled over that other snail. I need to keep the bag dry, alas, so the snail slime there will have to stay for the time being. At least it wasn't as bad as the slime on my hat, though!


Anonymous said...

ryan, that is just disgusting.....i just finished a fruit/yogurt smoothie..........
too graphic for right now.

maybe you also were able to get some new shoes in dalton........other wise i know why the hazmat people got to you so fast :J

T~Hiking and a movie......that is a cushy hike if i ever heard of one.

honeychile said...

Now that you've been slimed, you might miss it when the slime dries out. Here's a link to a recipe so that you can re-slime anytime. It's good for an elementary school chemistry project, too.

Anonymous said...

oh, by the way..........the first comment was me..........forgot to sign off.......


Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Your Atlas Quest widget for this post said: "A comfortable place to do your business"

Let's hope that Dalton was just that place :)

Hike on!
~Twinville Trekkers