Day 23: Jelly Bean

Jelly Bean woke up refreshed after a pleasant night spent refugee camping at Cody Gap. She stretched broadly, grinned up at the rising sun, tossed her pack on her shoulders, and hit the trail at seven. The day was perfect: warm but not hot, and the breeze carried the scent of spring flowers.

Screeeeeeeech. So very, very, very not true. (Also, I don’t know a Jelly Bean)

Not my finest hour on the trail. My shoes didn’t freeze, nor did my water. I slept warm. After the miserable night before, I’d put on every stitch I owned. I was even hot twice, and had to peel off my down hat for a few minutes.

Those were the good things, and I’m grateful for them.

It was still frigid when I woke up. The full moon shone on the snow banks, and nobody else was awake. That was beautiful—still and silent and winter.

But I just couldn’t get my mojo on today. The uphills brutalized me again, and despite endless hours of analysis, I don’t know why. I suspect, though, that I’ve got a cold. It’s hard to tell; you suck 34-degree wind, you drink 34-degree water, at night you’re snoring in a 20-degree tent… I think it’s hard on the lungs. At least old lungs! And you cough and sniffle and gasp like a fish.

Whatever the reason, it was a long day. At one point during the 2-mile uphill after Cable Gap Shelter, I considered just sitting there. Right there, in the middle of the trail… just sit and wait for spring. But winter sitting is too cold, so I got up and walked. And eventually I made it to Fontana Dam. Nine miles, I think. The day was cold and overcast, and at the end it started to rain. Perfect February weather.

At one point I broke out the headphones. I remember that Wiggy said music is important. I knew I’d be able to charge the phone, so I got down with some tunes for about 2 hours. It got me over the hump.

The water’s so beautiful! Deep turquoise. I’m in the lodge. Fontana Village is apparently the smallest township in North Carolina. Quite a vacation spot, I imagine. Lots of cabins.

I’m still trying to recover. The laundromat is a half mile away, and my feet are hamburger, so the laundry will have to wait until tomorrow. I hit the general store for my resupply (they have plenty, by the way; the rumors that you can’t resupply there are greatly exaggerated), and I got a bunch of junk to eat tonight and tomorrow. Canned ravioli, cheese in a can, Oreos. And I’m eating them in bed while I sneeze and blow my nose.

The plan was to stay here tonight and tomorrow night, then hit the Smokies on Sunday. The shuttle driver, though, said it’s supposed to rain torentially ‘sideways’ on Sunday, so I’m a little up in the air. I’m checking the weather, and I’ll decide tomorrow whether I need to stay an extra night. Expensive, but I’m beyond caring. I’d put emergency cash aside anyway, and I guess record-breaking cold and snow qualify.

There are a lot of hikers holed up here. I just saw one guy looking for the laundromat who looked as wiped as I feel. He wasn’t sneezing, though. Blackhawk Bob and PopPop are here. I haven’t seen anybody else I recognize.

In two weeks, this is going to be a whole different hike. I’m such a warm-weather gal!

Edited to add: Blackhawk Bob got me on the phone. He’s got a cold, too. He might stay a week here to recover. PopPop lives locally; he might go home for a week until next week’s predicted cold and rain are finished.

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Categories: Appalachian Trail | Tags: | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Day 23: Jelly Bean

  1. I liked your jelly bean tease. Sorry your reality is a bit harsher. I am cheering you on and wishing you the best. I’m planning my thru-hike for next year, just after I turn 64. A year to plan or a year to come to my senses.
    Ed

    • You’ll have a great time! Hey, last year at this time it was hot here. Every year is different. Have fun with your preparations!

  2. For a moment there I thought you had a new trail name, but I see it is your imagined hiker. Yeah, keep holding that thought and in the mean time keep making good decisions for the real hiker. It is always so good to hear from you and know you are still out there knocking out those miles.

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