Day 14: Nero in Franklin, North Carolina

So, I think I was up to the hypothermia, right? Yes, I was! And yes, I said hypothermia!

Actually, the resolution is less interesting. As soon as I realized I was near hypothermic, I went into default algorithm mode. What’s first? Calories. So I sat down and ate some trail bars and slim jims. Second? Warmth. As soon as the rain died down to just a steady downpour. I went and put up the tent. It was soaked. I used all my dry clothes to mop the floor. Then I realized my broken water bottle had just dumped pretty much my last 8 ounces of water into the tent.

I think I cried then, but the only thing I remember clearly is saying, “You have GOT to be shitting me.”

So, short story long, I inflated my air mattress and did the best I could to keep my quilt from going over the edges into the pool.

And it worked! I slept warm im the downpour. Sometime that night, everything froze. The bandannas I used to mop the floor were hanging like sheets of tin. It was windy and well below 30. I got up, rewarded myself with coffee (although I couldn’t wash the cup because even though it started with boiling water, the coffee at the bottom of the cup froze).

I did hear through the hiker grapevine that two hikers were rescued off the mountain with hypothermia that night.

Then yesterday turned out to be one of the best hiking days yet. The moods and changes out here are as steep and variable as the mountains. Whole eternities pass in the space of a winter afternoon. Yesterday I climbed a mountain.

Albert Mountain, 5250 feet—and a lot of the climbing was hand over hand, up rocky faces with a sheer emptiness behind. And it was fun as hell! The views were spectacular. I experimented with a little video. Bumped into Hobo up there, and we took each other’s pictures.

I passed a hiker on the way down, a day hiker in jeans. Then when I was a half mile down the other side, I realized I’d left my camera on the summit.

Panic.

I set off at a run back ip the hill. Please, please, please let that day hiker be one of the honest ones. Then… trail magic!

Running down the trail toward me was the day hiker, carrying my camera. He recognized me from the photo Hobo took! His name was Matt Parrish, and he’s a wilderness firefighter. Than you so much, Matt!

This trail is like that. Indescribable. Every intention becomes expressed, or its opposite does. The only other place I’ve seen that is one particular square mile in Michigan.

Tented last night at Long Branch Shelter [mile 102.5—broke the 100-mile mark!]. In the shelter were Hobo, Peanut Butter, Turtle, and Preacher. Preacher’s hike ended this morning. Knee injury. I left him back at Rock Gap, waiting for his ride out of the magic and back into the world.

Nothing more to be said! I’m in Franklin tonight and tomorrow. A good night to be off the trail, since it’s going down to 20 in town tonight, and probably 10 up on the mountain.

Also, my nose has been pouring snot since we got off the mountain. I may have a cold.

Oh, I almost forgot! Trail magic! At Winding Stair Gap, I and a few fellow hikers were looking at an hour wait in frigid temperatures, when a van pulled into the parking lot: 2011 thru-hiker Tinman, just stopping by to look at the trail. He asked if we wanted a ride into Franklin. Thanks, Tinman!

This trail is like that. Random miracles and the generosity of strangers.

Matt Parish:

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Tinman:

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A 65-cent soda machine! That’s crazy!

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Categories: Appalachian Trail | Tags: | 8 Comments

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8 thoughts on “Day 14: Nero in Franklin, North Carolina

  1. Peg

    OMG. My emotions are shifting up & down. I’m shivering just reading about you sleeping in the cold. And then I can feel the warmth of the sun. What a great adventure.

  2. Ultra smart getting off the trail and out of the weather. I can see why slim jims is one of the major hiker food groups.

    • I’m not sure what’s in them, and I’m not planning on finding out. But they’re some kind of protein and just the right size! I’m going to add nuts, too. I wish I was a bigger fan of jerky.

  3. I’m so glad the hypothermia didn’t get you! And I love reading this blog. You’re always my hero! (Exactly what I told Will last week when he was here to do a reading.)

    • I hope the reading went well! I’m sure it did. Will’s the bomb.

      It’s hard to tell the difference between hypothermia and whining. I usually go for whichever involves food and sleep. 😉

  4. Donna

    WOW! You reached 100! Knew ya would. Have a good rest.and a nice warm-up. Enjoy your new friends.

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