Day 20: Karma

I sent home my camera and my underwear and half my toothbrush, and I threw out my extra ziplocks and my tissues and every other gram of non-safety-related weight, and by freaking gods, I wanted to know that it counted. So this morning I packed up and trundled down to the outfitter and hung my pack on the scale.

Are you ready?

24 pounds, baby!

24 pounds, and that includes 4 or 5 days of food. (No water, but I’m planning on carrying less of that anyway.)

I can’t tell you how thrilling that was. Then, icing on the cake, I walked out of the outfitter (or skipped, really; knowing the pack is only 24 pounds made me stupidly giddy!) and nearly tripped over this canoe:

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Which, you may or may not know, is freaky, because look what I have tattooed on my shapely hiker’s calf:

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(I hope people aren’t getting a bunch of emails from this post. Embedding the photos seems to be doing something odd.)

Anyway, the NOC. It’s a huge psychological milestone on a thru. I don’t really know why—137.3 miles, not at the Smokes (as I like to call them). It’s certainly big, much bigger than I realized. It’s a whole campus of huts and buildings. Their nut comes from the Nantahala River and canoeing rather than hikers.

There are a lot of hikers here, as usual. I had breakfast with a bunch of them: Big Yankee, whom I met back at Muskrat Creek, plus Liferaft and Tugboat and Thunderfoot and others. We recognize one another. Here’s one from Big Yankee:

Q: What’s the difference between a thru-hiker and a homeless person?
A: Gortex!

Anyway, a lot of the hikers have been stranded here for three days because of the weather, and some of them are stir-crazy and headed out today anyway, despite the snow! A lot of localish hikers have bailed home for a week or two to wait for spring.

I’m planning to be out early—hopefully 7:30 AM or so, when it’s light enough to see the rocks. Can’t wait to be out there slugging!

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Categories: Appalachian Trail | Tags: | 17 Comments

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17 thoughts on “Day 20: Karma

  1. Fate! Thy name is Karma! 🙂

    I am so glad you lightened the pack. Heavy packs will wear you down quickly, and that snow looked a bit dangerous. When I heard about the storm coming through and dumping lots of “white stuff” in your neck of the woods, I was pretty concerned.

    Take care out there.

    • Yeah, not fun! But the next three days willbe dry. Still cold at night, but I’ll be toasty!

      Thanks, Erin!

  2. Karma … congrats on the 24# … you sound like Katz in Bryson’s “A Walk in the Woods” … hiking up the trail and throwing gear off to the side right and left. That must have been some awfully heavy underwear you were packing … in anticipation of the frequent “butt slides.” Now you’re going “commando” like the guys!

    • Javelin has me thinking about underwear vs commando hiking. Does underwear help to prevent chaffing? How do you handle that? Or is it not really much of an issue?

      Yeah, this is one of those questions that I normally wouldn’t ask in public, but what’s a little commando chat among friends? 🙂

      • Oh, man… I had a terrible chafing issue at the begimning! It surprised me because I didn’t have that problem at home. It’s the cold wind.

        I picked up a pair of long Underarmous, and that’s helped. I still have those!

    • I did keep my Underarmours. Gotta keep the chafing at bay!

    • I loved reading about Katz. But he threw out his stuff within the first 3 hours, didn’t he?

  3. Yay on a 24 pound pack! Although I doubt I will never be a thru hiker I am learning a lot that will help when I try section hiking. I love hiking vicariously through your posts.

  4. Marge

    Picturing anyone skipping with 24 xtra on their back is not, in itself, an easy visual! I remember you had just gotten your tat and were showing it off. Who’d have thunked it! No coincidences!! Let me hear it,”come on, Smokes! Here I am. Let’s do this….1 Smokey step at a time. Love you

  5. 24 pounds with food! That is awesome. Loving your blog and following you along the AT. Inspired me to assess every ounce in my pack.

  6. A section hike with Festies sounds grand, although I am not a trekker, even forty years ago with two good knees. I have always been a mozy down the trail kind of hiker. I could crank up the speed when needed, but usually I am at the tail end of the pack. That said with this knee replacement I could be even slower, or perhaps faster?

  7. April Loon Lohmann

    The snow can make for beautiful pictures but there are definitely hiking hazards with it. Stay safe and dry as possible and better weather will be on the way soon. If you see Life Raft and Tugboat (who I’m assuming is Clayton) tell them Loon said hi and I’ll be back out there on Sunday.

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