Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Day 12: ‘Twas a wet, wet day

Dscn4481March 19: It rained during the night and into the morning, and nobody in the shelter seemed excited about walking out into it. But as we all intended to reach Maine, walk in the rain we must!

The entire day, I saw almost nobody on the trail. It rained pretty much constantly—a light drizzle throughout the day. Occasionally it stopped, but it was often difficult to tell because the tree snot continued to fall during those brief interludes. It does keep one motivated to keep walking, though!

I stopped briefly at the next shelter—Standing Indian Shelter—for a snack break where I found Ice Cream buried deep in his sleeping bag. He had decided to take a zero day in the shelter in the hopes of waiting out the rain. Frankly, he looked more miserable than I did, and I was the one out in the rain hiking! I asked if he had any reading material to pass the time, but he said he didn’t. I know if it were me, I’d be crawling up the walls with insanity. To sit around all day long with—quite literally—absolutely nothing to do? I don’t know how people do it!

I continued onwards without any rests because it’s horrible to stop to rest in the cold, wet rain. I did pause briefly when I found a tarp on the trail, like it had fallen out of someone’s pack. It looked fairly clean and likely dropped recently, so I added it to the contents of my own pack and continued onwards in the hopes of catching up to the owner at the next shelter.

I continued onwards with plans to stop at the next shelter for the night. A shelter on a miserably rainy day like today would certainly hit the spot, but when I arrived, there were already a whopping nine people in the shelter. $#*#! Was I the only person hiking the trail today? Do these people not realize that they aren’t going to make it to Maine if they let a little rain take them off the trail?!

Even with nine of them, conversation between them seemed empty and hollow as if they had run out of things to talk about hours earlier. One of them commented that he was glad it rained all day because then he didn’t feel like he “wasted” an entire day doing nothing. I just wanted to slap him—but you did waste an entire day doing nothing!

And it’s weird, because every single one of them looked absolutely miserable tucked away in their sleeping bags like mummies. Cold and—although they stayed out of the rain—damp from the moisture that permeated the air. I was wet and generally miserable, but at least I felt like I accomplished something today instead of spending the whole day whining about the weather.
None of them claimed the tarp I had found, so I left it at the shelter for whoever came along and felt like they needed one. I certainly wasn’t going to carry it all of the way to Maine!

I ate a quick snack and thought over my options. I probably could have squeezed into the shelter if I wanted to. The main sleeping area was stuffed full of people in their sleeping bags—looking suitably miserable, but there was an overhanging roof that covered the dining area and I had little doubt that I could have squeezed into it if I wanted to for the night.

But I really didn’t want to spend an entire night with these people. They did not… impress me. Their lack of ambition and general look of misery suggested that it might be contagious. It seemed to have infected all nine of them, and I wanted no part of it. The next shelter, however, was so very far away for as late in the day as it was—and would have included a hike up Albert Mountain which I remembered being distinctly difficult and steep from my previous thru-hike. I had no desire to go up it in the rain.

My guidebook showed Betty Creek Gap a few miles ahead, though, where there would be water and places to camp. I’d shoot for that.
Onward I trekked through the miserable rain, finally arriving at Betty Creek late in the day. I saw a tent and a hammock already set up, which surprised me. It didn’t seem like anyone else was on the trail all day, and who’d be crazy enough to camp in the rain except someone like me? So I said, “Hello!” to meet my new neighbors. There was a slight pause of quiet before someone in the tent said, “Is that you, Green Tortuga?”

What?! Someone here knows me?!

“Uhh…. yeah. Who is that in there?”

A little section of door to the tent unzipped and a face peered through. It was Mouse and Georgia, who I had shared the shelter with last night (and this morning). They had left the shelter before me, but I hadn’t left much after they did and I hiked at a pretty good clip. I was sure I’d catch up to them at one of the shelters eating a snack, but I never did and wondered if maybe they had gotten off the trail somewhere to wait out the rain. They hadn’t, though—they had hiked exactly the same miles I did, but faster! I was impressed and delighted at their ambition.

Turns out, they had much of the same day I did, wanting to stop at the last shelter but deciding to go on after seeing how full it already was. Then they asked if I had seen a tarp on the trail—they had dropped one.
Oh…. crap! “Yes…. I did! And I carried it to the next shelter, but when nobody claimed it, I left it there.”

Oh, if I could turn back time, I’d have kept carrying that tarp for at least one more shelter. It would have been so great to have a happy ending—the lost trail item catching up with their owners. I’ve been the benefit of such mishaps and so wished I hadn’t given up on finding the owners of the tarp so quickly. I felt terrible.

Mouse tried to reassure me that it was okay. They had been concerned about littering on the trail and were happy to learn that at least I moved it on to a shelter. They didn’t even realize it was missing until they pulled out their tent to set it up and had no idea where they had lost it. “Well, I can tell you that much!” I said. “I probably carried it for four or five miles before I reached that last shelter.” They were surprised to learn that they had lost it so far back.

Anyhow, we caught up a bit. Nobody from the hammock ever spoke up, so I didn’t pursue who my other neighbor was. I also noticed another tent hidden even further back, but they also never said anything either so I didn’t pursue who they were. I was getting cold now that I wasn’t hiking and needed to set up my own shelter for the night instead of chit-chatting. =)

I found a place for my tarp and proceeded to set it up, then threw down my ground sheet underneath and unpacked my gear. Everything had a wet feel to it—that pervasive dampness that gets on everything because the air is so wet. I changed into my dry clothes, but even those had a clamminess to them, then into my sleeping bag for the night. I was done!

Total steps for the day: 34,826 steps
Miles for the day: 16.2 miles
Total miles: 106.4 miles
I found this graffiti in the first shelter I stopped at for a lunch break. Glad I didn’t have to sleep here! It looked like one scary shelter!

I did take a photo of the tarp where I found it on the trail—which I offered to show Mouse and Georgia in place of bringing the real thing to them. (They said it wasn’t necessary, though!)

Someone cleverly used this leaf to make it easier to collect water from this spring. =)

My original destination for the day was stuffed full of nine people when I arrived, so I decided to carry on.

My shelter for the night. It wasn’t crowded—that’s for sure! =) Camping alone like this, though, I was able to catch up on a lot of my reading rather than talking with other hikers all night long. I miss my reading….


clueless said...

LOL, I've had the same thought as you at jury duty. I come with bags of stuff to read and do; other people come and just sit in a chair and stare straight ahead at nothing for hours. How do they do it??

Karolina said...

It might have been a miserable day but pictures are great!