Friday, July 17, 2015

Day 52: Eh? Eh?! Eh?!!!

April 28: The morning was, once again, cold, but for the first time in the better part of a week, it felt definitively warmer. With no clouds to obscure the sun, the day was definitely warmer as well.

All-in-all, I found the day's hike a rough one. Lots of long drops and steep climbs with rock scrambles. I still managed to pull off 22 miles, but it took a whopping 56,459 steps to do it! I've had a couple of days where I covered more miles, but with 10% fewer steps. A step-count to distance ratio turns out to be a pretty good measure of how difficult a section of the trail is. =)

At one shelter, I wrote a short note describing the "God-awful" sounds coming from the privy. The truth of the matter was, there was nobody in the privy. Nobody at all. I sat with the register in my hands, trying to think of something interesting or entertaining to write and coming up blank. And finally, I decided to make up a story about the privy, giggling at the thought of the next person who arrives and has to go, but then reading my register entry and suddenly thinking that maybe they can hold it just a bit longer. Probably not so funny for the person who really wants to use the privy, but it struck me as a harmless joke since there was nothing wrong with the privy. At least I assumed there wasn't. I hadn't actually checked out the privy myself.

Closing in on sunset, I raced across a ridgetop with nice views through the trees. I remembered this area from my first hike because of the large piles of rocks mysteriously littering the ridgetop. I thought it seemed very Blair Witch-ish, even if it was in the wrong part of the country. I was tempted to camp on the ridgetop, but I wanted to go down to the shelter nearly a half-mile off trail and down a steep trail anyhow to get water, use the privy and get a photo of the shelter. I might just stay at the shelter because I was beat....

But the ridgetop sure was a tempting place to stop! I was torn.

Great views! =)

In any case, I headed down the side trail to the shelter where I discovered 17 Canadians from a school had not only filled up the shelter, but overflowed it all over the place. OMG! So... many... Canadians...

To be fair, they were all immensely nice and polite. But there were so many of them! That made my decision on where to camp an easy one--back to the ridgetop! No way in hell I wanted to camp near such a large crowd of people!

Before I left, I did tell them about the night I spent in that shelter during my 2003 thru-hike--and unlike the privy story, this one was 100% true. It was just myself and a weekend backpacker, and he was freaking about about noises he could hear in the shelter that he was convinced were mice. I agreed, it was probably mice, but get over it. There's nothing you can do about them!

But he insisted on turning on his headlamp and trying to confirm it was a mouse he heard (with no plan on what to do about it if he did see it). And it was no mere mouse he found. Nope, it was a giant, basketball-sized rat! I'd never seen such a gigantic rodent in my life--before or since--and now I was freaking out. I didn't sleep well after that...

"But," I told the Canadians. "That was 12 years ago. That rat has probably died by now," I told them charitably. Then immediately snatched back their piece of mind by adding, "But he probably has lots of descendents that haunt the shelter now, eh?" =)

I don't know if they slept well or not, and although they were nothing but polite, I still find it inexcusable to take a 17-person strong group into the wilderness. So I hope my story made a few of them sleep a bit poorly that night.

In truth, it's a story I like and I probably would have told it to anyone who was camped there, but I'd feel less guilty if a group of 17 people had trouble sleeping than small groups of two or three. =)

I used the privy and filled up with water, then headed back up to the trail hundreds of feet up the hill. I hiked for about a half hour before finding a nice, level spot to set up camp with a decent view to the west and a slightly less decent view to the west. I camped by myself, although a fellow named Bear Claw hiking southbound stopped to chat for a bit when he found me next to the trail. It was a nice splendid place to camp and I was almost glad the Canadians pushed me out of the shelter. I definitely had the better spot! And it probably wasn't infested with giant rats either. =)

This white blaze seems... concerned?

Yep, I fess up. This was all lies! Not a shred of truth to any of it. =) (Except the part about skipping this privy.)

Signs of spring continue to sprout!

Lots of nice views today!

Spring is in the air!

This is the Keiffer Oak--one of the largest trees along the Appalachian Trail. It's over 18 feet around and more than 300 years old. And because I have nothing in the photo to show its scale, it's really hard to see the immensity of the tree.

My campsite for the night--it was wonderful!

Sunset from camp.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I'm so ready for spring... i know it's August.. but spring time is my most favorite season and seeing the photos of the trees so fresh and new is really making me miss it... i don't like winter....