Day 23: meltdown edition 

I woke up about two minutes before my alarm and lay in my sleeping bag until it went off at 520. Given our prime power line spot and the dearth of visible sunrises so far, I felt determined to make it happen today. I unzipped my tent, put on my shoes, and stiffly walked up the hill past the clusters of lady slippers. It was a windy morning, but the temperature was reasonable, so I stood in comfort with my puffy coat and caught the pinkest part of the event. Angel joined me eventually, and we watched it together until a little past 6. He told me about seeing the sunrise in the grand canyon when his oldest daughter turned 16. I feel bad that I didn’t stay to talk more, but I felt so groggy, and I was starting to get cold. 

I went back down the hill and laid in my tent considering whether to go back to sleep because we had a shorter day of 10.9 miles on the docket. I heard halfway stirring in his tent, and I know that I’m a terrible napper, so I decided to just get up. Made myself breakfast and put in extra cinnamon. So good. I felt whiny and tired this morning, and I grumbled inside my head the entire time I broke down camp. Jimmy and angel left first with me about 10 minutes behind. I didn’t see them until I got to tonight’s shelter. 

The trail got rocky immediately after leaving the camp. I tried to admire what I could, and I went as slowly as I needed to in order to take short flat steps. No sense in rushing and ending up with my foot jammed between rocks or stepping on a pointy edge and breaking my foot. 

Not long after the rocks started, the trail led me up to what’s called knifes edge, which involved crossing a ridge made up of rocks sitting at crazy angles. There were very few flat surfaces to be found. I definitely had to scramble and use my hands. I made it through unscathed and was on my way down the last spine when I heard a guy yelling behind me. Something about “hell of a way to start” He sounded belligerent. Turns out his trail name is Mad Tom and he yells a lot. He and his partner are finishing their AT section hike with PA. 

Halfway caught up to me not long after mad tom passed me. We had a laugh over tom’s yelling and then halfway was off. After another hour of boulders and shit kickers, the trail transitioned into a moderately flat wide lane.

 I was surprised to get such relief because everyone we speak to keeps saying how horrible the rocks are. It’s true, they’re painful and SO tedious, but not as constant as people make it sound. These could be famous last words. 
Thruhiker salesman (from rock n sole hostel) passed me around 10. We have the same gaiters, which I find Hilarious because they’re paint splatters circa trapper keeper designs from 1989. I hit the bake oven knob shelter around 11 and saw Halfway hanging out. We stocked up on water and wilted in the shade of the very old leaning shelter. 

I decided to walk another hour before eating lunch. Today was the hottest day on trail so far, and I could definitely feel the extra effort. For lunch I had a tuna, frito wrap with cheese, honey, and hot sauce from Wendy’s (care of my dad). Strange but good. After I ate, I took the time to wrap my little toes in KT tape. The sloshing around on rocks makes my feet rub in a different way and I could feel the beginnings of some unfortunate pinching. 

The afternoon was hot and dry with very little shade. I wore my ridiculous dollar general boonie hat and put on sunscreen like a responsible pasty person. I’ve had trouble paying attention to anything beyond four feet in front of me the last few days, especially in the afternoons. Somehow chrissy and I ended up walking together for another couple of hours today. We didn’t talk much. She was also tired and being harangued by gnats. I had taken a benadryl after lunch in the hopes that it might allay the weird puffiness in my index finger. It’s possible that had something to do with the extra wobbling for the last 2 miles. I had to really concentrate on what I was doing. I also ate another snack and drank more water. Sometimes I feel like my body is a baby, and I don’t know what it wants so I just keep trying stuff until something works. The last two miles into c’s of were dismal in terms of energy level and mood, but we the ferns helped a little bit: 

Chrissy and I finally rolled into camp (aka hobble because our feet are sore and we’ve been walking for 8 hours) around 415. Jimmy motions for me to be quiet as I come down the hill to the shelter. I thought mah e he had an animal to show me. As it turns out, there was a non hiker sleeping in the shelter with a knife on his belt. He had been non responsive when they tried to rouse him. They think he was drunk or high or something, but they were all up in arms about getting into town and away from the “vagrant.” An older gentleman named lost & found was very put out by the thought of having to move on after having hiked all day. He went so far as to call the police department, which felt like an overreaction to me. The man was asleep. Sure he had a knife, and I wasn’t about to stay in the shelter with him (or in the area alone), but I don’t understand why the next move is to call the cops. 

The guys had already tried calling hotels and hostel options, of which there were very few and they had no luck. I voted to camp nearby and that’s eventually what we did. Jimmy and angel walked down the trail to see about a campsite that someone said might exist. Halfway, chrissy and I filtered water in preparation for camping and for the looong water carry we have tomorrow. We are going through a dead zone for water sources because of zinc smelting and heavy metal pollution. 

Halfway finished filtering first and I asked chrissy to stay with me until I was done just in case mystery guy decided to stumble down the hill. After I finished, I noticed a text from jimmy saying they couldn’t find a site. I tried calling, straight to voicemail. We weren’t sure whether to wait or walk down hill (a big decision when you’re talking about all the weight we carry). Walking seemed like the wiser option because waiting involved a mosquito army, so we slowly made our way down the trail keeping our eyes peeled for campsites. It seemed like we’d gone too far, but I caught a hint of woodsmoke in the air. Then chrissy yelled out Jimmy’s name and he responded from down the trail. We walked down to the sight of halfways tent already pitched and a fire going. 

At that point chrissy and I were both pretty frayed. We set up our tents, and I prepped my stuff to boil water. As I sat down on a log to turn on my stove, the log moved and I went tumbling backwards. My tailbone landed right on the corner of a rock behind me. I immmeditely jumped up and started freaking out about having reinjured myself. Mind you, my version of freaking out involves standing there silently taking deep breaths and pulling on my hair. I walked around gingerly and tried to assess the damage. I didn’t feel any sharp pains, but there was an intense throbbing that felt reminiscent of my original break, which scared me. I don’t think anyone around me knew what to do so they were all silent. For like a half an hour while I put dinner together (because I still had to eat even though I felt too anxious to give two shits about food). I stood around numbly eating my tasteless Mac and cheese and unsuccessfully trying not to cry. I texted my mother and my steady, but that just made me want to cry more, so I walked away from camp and leaned against a tree with my back to everyone. I stood there spoooning noodles into my mouth while tears ran down my face and thoughts of having to quit ran through my head. The group started talking about planning stuff, which of course is like moth to a flame for me, so I walked back over to join the conversation. Halfway asked me how I was and I said I don’t know. He asked about the damage and I said I don’t know. Hopefully my tone wasn’t mean, but I couldn’t pretend to be okay. 

After I finished eating, which I did standing because I was too freaked out that sitting might hurt, we hung bear bags. I crawled into my tent to write and get off of my feet. We are supposed to tackle Lehigh gap tomorrow, which is notoriously difficult and has to be done with extra water weight. I’m going to try to reserve my freak out until I get evidence that says I’ve really hurt myself. I’m writing this to the sound of road noise, chrissy laughing because jimmy texted us from his tent, and halfway squeaking around on his sleeping pad. Fingers crossed that I will just be sore and not out of commission. 

**REAL TIME UPDATE: my tailbone survived a full day of hiking (including the infamous Lehigh gap). I’m back to not really being able to sit down, which is an issue for taking breaks, but, knock on wood, I can keep hiking. 

Mile 1246.0 to mile 1257.1 (11.1) 

Total miles: 253.9 

Creature feature: I honestly can’t remember much of anything right now. I finally saw the bird that I’ve been hearing with a call similar to “pretty girl” but I couldn’t catch the colors because of the angle. 


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