First, more news from yesterday. I forgot to mention how perfect
the day was (most of it). I was hiking in the sun, birds were singing
(literally), and there were some great views.
Last night I had the privilege of having a mouse walk over me in
my sleep. Luckily, I had zipped my bivy sack up all the way in case the rain
blew in the side of the shelter. So instead of it walking on my actual body or
getting in my bag, it climbed up on top of my shoulder. I punched his little ass
out into the cold rain. Later, he, or another like him, came and tried climbing
the other side, but it was too slick and he gave up.
Today we hiked 13 miles in the cold rain (38 degrees). We got to
the shelter about 2:00, very cold and very wet. The gang here made room and tonight
there will be 17 of us crammed in. Cold wet clothes to hike in tomorrow. Gotta
keep one set warm and dry. Where else would a bunch of strangers pull together
like this? It is inspiring.
Random notes on things:
Stuff I have found on the trail that people have abandoned,
proving true you could outfit yourself in GA: 3 socks, 100ft. rope, rain
pants, a glove, a cooking pan, a hiking stick, a pair of jeans, a wool
pullover, several books, waterproof spray, and soap. Other have found even
more or been given it by those quitting (i.e., stove, sleeping bag, food,
camp chairs, axe.)
Why people have quit: broken ankle, unprepared, sick of it.
One guy almost died from hypothermia. He was wearing and
brought (including bag) all cotton and got caught in a snow storm. Some
thru-hikers saved his life by getting him into their clothes, bag, and
feeding him hot chocolate.
What the trail looks like: the trees are all bare (except
for the firs) so the ground is covered with yellow and brown leaves. It is
hardly ever flat. The actual trail is about two feet wide and compressed
down about three inches from the surrounding earth. It is usually brown and
black dirt mixed with crushed leaves. On the sides usually grows moss or
some other ground cover (tiny plants, etc.). This grows well there since the dirt
gets churned by hiking sticks. There are a lot of rhododendrons, a leafy
evergreen with thick, shiny, leathery leaves that curl up tube like as it
gets colder. There are several kinds of deciduous trees and piney firs. At
this time of year here in Georgia / North Carolina, there are a lot of
springs and creeks. This makes for a lot of moss and cool mildew stuff
growing on trees. Sometimes there are long stretches of rock fields to cross
which are a terror on the knees. Roots in the trail area are a terror on the
ankles. Its all very pretty, to some degree, even when its raining.
Read the journal of a south-bounder (ME->GA) I saw today.
Very inspirational. One thing I specifically remember was that he said he
liked this life of "no bullshit" where "everything...has a
purpose." It is very true. Very little energy is wasted doing pointless
things while on trail. Food, water, walking, sleeping,
"friendships." Stewball also said to enjoy it while it lasts
because it goes by fast. He is one week from finishing, taking 9 months
(with a few off in the heart of winter).