Pecks Corner Shelter [mile 217.2]
Elevation: 5555 feet
I forgot to mention that yesterday the forest was stunning: little creeks through dense woods, red bark, smelling of pine. Silence. This forest is ancient. It doesn’t see us, hear us; our tiny lives are invisible to it.
But that was yesterday. Today the trail gave me the typical boomerang—it responded to yesterday’s bliss with a triple dose of suck.
I had to quit five minutes before the miracle. Five miles, actually.
I actually think it’s related to how well I sleep, and last night I really didn’t. In the crowded shelter, a couple of hikers didn’t get the ‘hiker midnight’ memo—that is, hikers are quiet after dark, mostly from exhaustion. Those guys chatted loudly until about eleven; and some time after that, four young guys came into the shelter and crowded in next to me.
That’s all fine, of course; the shelters are for everybody and I’m glad they’re here. But this morning I woke up, and one of my gloves was gone. Vanished! I’d worn them to bed and taken them off when I was warm. One of them was next to my mat.
I went through everything three times. No glove. It had to be those guys who came in late, I thought. In setting up, they’d swept up my glove. But I had to wait for them to wake up!
When they finally did… no glove.
The only other option was that a mouse ran off with it. Unlikely.
I had to surrender to the inevitable. I’ve still got my thin fleece mittens. and if it gets bitter, I can use my spare socks. And it’s getting warmer every night. Maybe 35, 37 tonight.
Anyway. The day started pear-shaped. The walking was fine—a few ups and downs, nothing major, easy terrain across ridgelines with vast views.
I just couldn’t get myself together. It took me six hours to go eight miles. And at one point… get this… I had to take an emergency poop! I was horrified. There was a cliff wall on one side and a dropoff on the other. And in the blink of an eye, I had to make a decision. I dropped trou and pooped off the side of a mountain. Now how many people can say that?
I immediately went to Giardia, but it’s more likely the fact that I was cramming candy bars to try to lighten my pack weight. And the pack weight is the issue again. I topped off my resupply in Gatlinburg. Too much weight. Too much food weight!
That’s probably my last body function story. Because after you’ve pooped off the side of a mountain, nothing else is really newsworthy.
Anyway… I got nothing. I’ll sleep tonight and aim for a good day tomorrow. And tomorrow I’ll have finished 10% of the trail.
The shelter is full of friends: SBS and BOH, the Postman. Also Fifteen… who, it turns out, is Ramblin Rex from Trail Journals! Hikers changed his trail name. Also from TJ is 50/50. Simone from Germany is here, and section hiker David.
Good times. Better times tomorrow. And out of the Smokies in just a few days.
Edited to add: Holy moly! My glove reappeared! Was it in ju pants? Pants that I shook out three times and turned inside out twice and wore to the privy? It’s like it disappeared overnight through an interdimensional portal to the Land of the Gloves, then popped back into existence.
Life’s funny. Go with the flow. 🙂