I slept so fitfully, partially because I had to pee about two hours into the night. So irritating because I went to the bathroom right before I went to sleep. Around 345 I finally gave up and crawled out of my tent. Part of the problem was that I was so close to the water source that I shouldn’t be peeing near my tent, and I was trying to avoid it. But I finally gave up and was a terrible person and did it anyway. It rained around five, But thankfully tailed off before I needed to get up and pack everything away. I made my way towards the privy around 620 feeling grateful to finally be near a privy after so many campsites. Josh, a fellow I met at neel gap ,was already at the picnic table in the shelter.
I grabbed my food bag and Went back to my campsite and muddled my way through packing up. The tent bottom wasn’t the worst but my hands were definitely a little black by the time I was done wiping away the dirt with my tent towel. I had Breakfast sitting at the picnic table. crock’s friend continues to not feel well and they’re not sure if they’re going to keep going. I could tell crock was itchy about it and I am sad that we won’t get to spend more time walking together. I asked him if he was on Facebook which then led him to walk down to the water with me so I could get a signal to check my username. We decided to exchange phone numbers so that if his friend does not continue on he will try to drop on trail wherever I am and hang out for a little while. Of course this happens the day after a few days of me feeling somewhat low about not having steady company.
The air was Misty but not too chilly. I left camp wearing a long sleeve and I’m comfortable although my hands are a little cold. The Walk started with gentle rolling trail through rhododendrons and hardwoods that were shrouded in fog with bright spots of those blue little flowers. Standing Indian mountain is on today’s agenda. Maya will likely be ending up at the same shelter as me so that will hopefully make for decent company tonight. My little toe seems to be working itself out. Hopefully my feet don’t end up too wet today to ruin whatever callous has started to form.
As I walked i listened to the Steady patter of drops falling from the moisture in the trees. It’s Hard to tell what’s old or new rain. The sun tried to brighten things up every now and then and the humidity was definitely creeping. I wandered along thinking about my wardrobe choices (too hot/too cold) and what the various people in my life are up to right now
I Noticed more variations of what I assume is Trillium based on the leaf formation. And a new pinwheel looking flower:
Little concave spiderwebs dotted the sides of the trail. They look like acrobatic nets with the spiders as trapeze artists. I’m Already daydreaming about lunch which reminds me of crock’s favorite lunch which is tortilla smothered and peanut butter with snickers and Tabasco sauce.
I had Sandy moderate footing for a little while and then it turned slightly rockier though not as bad as the section where I ran into the bear the other day.
InWorked my way up towards a gap and I happened to notice this new flower. Not long afterward, I saw a flash of blew off to my left but I never could get another glimpse of the bird. I assume it was a bluebird? I Had to stop myself from hoping to see Mia around the crest of every new hill. Not because I want company but because I feel slow, And it would be nice to catch up with someone.
I came to a Short-lived tricky section where I could see Mia just ahead. Then the footing alternated between soft and relatively rooty.
Then came Another technical rocky downhill that evened out after not too long. My feet are sloppy this morning. I’ve had to catch myself from falling a couple of different times.
I had more Trail magic (banana! And a beagle! The same beagle from yesterday) at the gap where the rest of the group were already gathered. I decided to race the world up standing Indian which is a 2.5 gradual climb to a 5400 foot mountain.
I managed to make it up the first with josh pacing behind me. I thought he was comfortable back there, so I kept pushing it. As it turns out he was giving it all he had to keep up with me. At one point I very nearly stopped to call Oakland rather than stay in front. I missed my window to walk her to work and I couldn’t stop to linger over picture taking with the pressure of people behind me. For all of my complaining about being last, I think it might suit the way I actually LIKE to hike versus the way I WISH I hiked (faster). I also think I strained my foot in the midst of my ego trip because somewhere towards the top quarter, I had a really sharp pain deep inside my ankle joint. It seemed to go away But then as I came down from the Overlook, I stepped onto my foot funny. The sharp pain in my ankle went away quickly but now there’s a definite tightness in the bottom of my foot and the outside of my ankle.
I made my way across the ridge and down the mountain trying my best not to freak out. I told myself just because it hurtsndoesn’t mean I’m injured. I said my goal for the rest of the day is to be the slowest person out here. No more racing. I broke my own mantra about completing versus competing.
Parts of the descent were rocky, which was nerve-racking but I picked my way through them slowly and eventually everyone passed me. I put on Music to help distract me from paying too much attention to every footfall. I tried to think of all the times my body felt pain on my first hike and each pain had eventually resolved itself. The trip down standing Indian was thankfully very similar to the trip up with long switchbacks. I made sure to take careful, flat steps to prevent any extra rolling/movement
I Stopped to make food after passing maya on a rock but then I heard a low distant thunder. I pulled out my stuff, made my wrap and did what I never do, which is ate lunch while walking and occasionally stopping on a log to rest. I hope there’s room in the shelter for me!
I eventually came upon a Strange squishy stretch where water had clearly flowed from somewhere and flooded the trail. I checked the mileage just passed the monkey bit and saw that there’s only 3.3 miles left to the shelter. Shortly thereafter I ran into four of today’s group having a lunch break. Maya must’ve gone by because she wasn’t there. I left them as they collected themselves and continued walking with City Gait Leading the way. That guy is way faster than me. around the bed, I ran into the great Dane family again. Such a strange sight.
I Passed a large blowdown section that I think people must have had to go through earlier in the year because it’s now cut through. Walked over a small water source but I skipped it again. I know I should be drinking more water today but I just want the day to be over and I want to make sure I get in the shelter. I also want to get off my foot a soon as possible.
I Turned off my music for a few minutes so I could listen to a loud stream burble far down in the ravine below the trail. I Saw a new flowering tree.
The stream I heard was actually a water source later down the trail that I skipped. I left Gary they’re trying to fill his sawyer bag because he said he was too lazy to get his scoop.
Gary passed me going up hill where I stopped to take one of my shirts off. about 100 yards later I passed him because he was also having temperature regulation issues. I Found a bit of cell signal and sent a few texts. I Haven’t had service for the last two hours. Around the cell wormhole, which closed as quickly as it had opened, I Saw this peekaboo view of the mountains. There has been periodic thunder but so far nothing has come of it.
I made a Misstep over I stream and ended up with A muddy foot. Brad and Rosie passed me a while ago. When I heard them approaching I forced myself not to rush. I’m anxious about space in the shelter, But if I have to set up my tent in the rain, so be it. I Finally got through the Long gradual climb that led to a short flat spot where I saw Brad waiting for Rosie to finish the bathroom break. we shared the sentiment that this had been a long day Even though it’s not that many miles.
The Trail slowly lost a bit of elevation as it led me down towards the Carter gap shelter. A long ridge line loomed over to my left. the woods were full of blow downs and small evidence of fire.
Somewhere in the last couple of miles, I crossed my 100 mile mark. It seems hard to believe I’ve come that far, and I also feel like I’ve just started. Part of me says 100 miles is the barometer to successfully sticking this out, but I know just how fast a hike can end, regardless of physical and mental endurance.
I made it to carter gap shelter right behind maya, who’s trail name is now sunny. She was wandering around with her pack still on because the signage is a little wonky. The shelter used to be on the left side of the trail and they built a new one just ahead to the right. We celebrated our shelter arrival success while we went about making our respective phone calls because there’s a tiny bit of service here. I threw down my sleeping pad on the side of the floor that didn’t have a hole and put my pack on a hook.
I Got water in the rain which turned me into a muddy misery for a little while, but the rain stopped before I finished. Everything is getting that typical AT layer of dirt and leaf dander. I Walked back up and found brad & Rosie planning their moves. It’s too early for them to stop and normally I wouldn’t consider stopping at 2:15, But today has felt mentally tough and I think it’s wise to give my ankle an early day.
The problem with stopping this early is there’s nothing to do but sit around which is hard on my body in a different way and I want to eat all my food. I decided to hang my bear line and make my 100 mile marker before it started raining again. I had intended to make my sign out of ferns but moss was the most abundant material, so moss it was!
Then came several hours of talking to people about anything from hiking to mamma Mia actors. A couple of hammock sleeping weekenders hung out in the shelter while it poured. A thru hiker named backtrack showed up during a rainy stretch. We learned that he had hiked the Te Araroa in NZ which is a CRAZY hard trail. He hung out for awhile eating a honey crisp apple and left around 5pm to go 3.5 more miles. No thank you. Not on a day like today.
We all went through our various dinner routines. I had a black beans and rice meal with some of the Doritos that I didn’t eat at lunch because of my abbreviated break. one of the weekenders abandoned his hammock and is sleeping in the shelter. My skin crawled a bit when I heard him tell his friend that he thinks trump has done more than anyone else and to him that’s what matters. Baffling and infuriating but very much not a conversation I had any intention in starting.
Then came then came the hygiene routine, people wandering about brushing their teeth. I walked over to my bear line and cringed at the flexibility of the branch when I pulled my bag up into the air. I managed to get a decent pct hang but it’s a little lower than I’d like. I came back and said as much to sunny and she told me that I say that every time. Who knew.
I had a short phone call with Oakland because service! And long distance! It’s hard to have reasonably timed calls in the shelter because everyone goes to bed pretty early. For example it’s 6:50 and everyone is relatively tucked into sleeping bags doing their own thing. At least they were doing their own thing until it started HAILING. It made a deafening sound on the metal roof.
Now comes the infernal last bathroom break timing that is made slightly more complicated by also not wanting to get rained on. I’m finishing this to the sound of the rain plopping on the roof, sunny rustling around in her pack, the weekender occasionally clearing his throat and the soft patter of rain hitting sodden earth.
Mile 81.0 to mile 93.5 (12.5)
Total miles: 101.8
Creature feature: the possible blue bird or blue jay is the only thing I noted besides the occasional squirrel. It was a head down kind of day, but there was constant
Bird chatter in the canopy so they were out there.