Monday, April 13, 2015

Day 11: One State Down! Thirteen To Go…

Dscn4332March 18: We woke up to a beautiful sunrise, and I parted ways with Pink Panther and Jacoby. Pink Panther was heading into town and I didn’t expect to see her again. Jacoby, I figured, I’d see later that evening at the shelter. He might hike slower than me, but he seemed to keep up the same distances as I’ve been doing!

The first person I saw on the trail was a girl stopped along the side of the trail. It was near water, and I wasn’t sure if she was stopped to get water or just to rest, but she wore a black, long-sleeved shirt which made the bright, pink cap she wore really pop out, so when she said she didn’t have a trail name yet, I suggested Pink. She didn’t much like the name and said that there was already a Pink Panther on the trail (yep, I know, I shared the shelter with her last night!), but this girl seemed more Pink than the Pink Panther did. =)

I continued onwards where eventually I bumped into another fellow who told me his trail name was Clean Shave because he didn’t intend to grow a beard like most men on the trail. He was a little pudgy and spoke with a thick accent, so I asked where he was from: Puerto Rico. He seemed to enjoy talking… a lot! But there’s something likeable about the guy. He also told me that he started the trail with a 90-pound pack explaining that in the military, he had to carry even heavier loads and thought a 90-pound pack didn’t seem particularly heavy. Yikes!

Apparently, however, that didn’t work out well for him and he had since lightened his load to 40 pounds. Still a bit on the heavy side, but at least within the realm of normal. He asked about the girl “wearing pink” behind me. I laughed. She really needed to find a trailname or get rid of that pink hat if she didn’t want the trailname Pink to stick. =)

I headed onwards, including a quick stop at the Plum Orchard Shelter. When I left the shelter, I found Clean Shave and “Pink” sitting on the side of the trail resting and eating a snack. Neither of them seemed inclined to walk the 0.2 miles off trail to the shelter like I did, but I did tell the girl she should get rid of the hat because when I ran into Clean Shave, he asked about the girl “wearing pink.”

“NO!” she exclaimed, looking at him. “You did not call me Pink!”

“It’s the hat,” I told her. “You need another trailname quick or you need to ditch the hat!”

Apparently, Doppelganger had also been suggested as a trailname for her after someone mistook her for someone else (Pink Panther, perhaps?) Clean Shave and I both thought that sounded like a great trailname, but she didn’t much like that one either.

I continued on, never to see either of them again on the trail. (At least not by the time I’m writing this post.) I have no idea what trailname the girl settled on or was forced onto her, but I hope she likes whatever she ends up with. =)

Near the end of the day, I reached the North Carolina border. Georgia was finally done! The first time I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail, I remember being absolutely ecstatic about reading this point. At the time, it marked the longest backpacking trip of my life. I’d never hiked to another state before. This time, I still felt a sense of accomplishment, but nowhere near the ecstatic feeling I had before. I hadn’t even hiked a hundred miles yet. In the grand scheme of things, it’s a scratch compared to my previous exploits.

As I remembered from my last thru-hike, North Carolina welcomes hikers with a serious punch, climbing steep hillsides with not even a hint of a switchback. It wasn’t as hard as I remembered it, but I was in better shape this time and not suffering from blisters and other ailments which slowed me down the last time. The trail, however, definitely turned more difficult almost immediately after crossing into North Carolina, even if it was easier for me this time around.

I finished the day at Muskrat Creek Shelter where I met an entirely new cast of characters. It seemed like I was meeting entirely new cast of characters on a daily basis—I was definitely hiking longer and farther than most people. This time, it included a father-son pair named Martha Stewart (clean up your crap!) and Dr. Pepper (for drinking 4 liters of it in an hour), a couple named Mouse and Georgia (I tried to convinced Georgia to name his blisters after each state the trail runs through so his first blister would be named Georgia. He claimed that there wouldn’t be enough states, though!).

Then there was Copperhead—named for her red hair—another Seattleite! Seems that our section of the world happens to be well represented on the Appalachian Trail this year. =)

Somewhat surprisingly, however, Jacoby didn’t make it to the shelter that evening. I guess I finally outpaced him too.

Total steps today: 37,888 steps
Miles today: 15.9 miles
Total miles: 90.2 miles

Sometimes shelters are built off-site then brought into the backcountry by helicopter like this depiction shows in the Plum Orchard Shelter. I’d really like to see that happen in real life, though!

Clean Shave used to have a 90-pound pack at the beginning of the trail. He’s managed to whittle it down to a mere 40 pounds now. =)

She actually wears more black than pink, but that bright pink contrasted against that black really makes the pink pop. However, she does not want to be called Pink. So from now on, I’ll just call her “Not Pink.” =)

I make friends with the tree that marks the Georgia and North Carolina border. =)

I took this photo because it was such a strange tree, but No Toes was using it as a resting place and wound up in my photo! =)



Anonymous said...

Visiting your blog is the only way I will ever "hike" the AP, so I am enjoying your posts enormously.
The pictures are great.

Unknown said...

Ryan - Your blog gives me something to look forward to on Mondays. Sorry to hear about your fall and I hope you're not overly sore over the next few days. Take care - becohio

StarSAELS said...

No Toes?

Papercrafts by Cindyellen said...

i got to see them deliver a shelter via helicopter here in VT, on the Long Trail. Now which one was that? it was in the middle of the long grade up Camels Hump - the one where you think you're gonna die. We happened to be driving by on 89, and watched them deliver it.