Again with the reluctance to get out of my sleeping bag and start walking! I couldn’t roust myself until 6, but I managed to hit the trail at 7:05. That’s a long way from the first morning, remember? Back then it took me 3 hours to pack up and I was the last one to creep out of the shelter area.
Today was sheer summer. Bright clouds in a blue sky, and hot sunshine. In fact, if there was any slightly off note, it was the lack of shade. The trees still think it’s winter.
That first climb was a monster. There were switchbacks, though, and enough flat places that I managed three miles in two hours, which is outstanding for me going uphill.
But get this! About two miles up, I passed a guy asleep just off the trail—I mean six inches off the trail. He was curled up, wearing a sweatshirt (not hiker gear), and nearby were a duffel bag and a bucket full of bottles (definitely not hiker gear). I had no idea what to do. Should I wake him? Ask if he was all right?
When I was sick, after I moved my site I pitched my tent as far away from the other hikers as I could (didn’t want to infect them). And It struck me that nobody asked if I was OK. That was a very alone, and frankly frightening, feeling.
So I was thinking I should nudge this guy and ask if he was OK. But I was getting a very hinky vibe from the whole thing. The AT being mythic, people escape here from all sorts of things. Not all are safe or sane.
I went with my gut. He was breathing fine and it wasn’t cold. I couldn’t have given him water or food, being nearly out of both. Even my phone battery was pretty much dead. I decided it was best handled by a group of hikers, or at least a burly guy with a stick.
Getting water later, I ran into Clark Kent (not DB Cooper, but a different Clark Kent) and Wander (ie, Wander Woman). They’d seen the sleeping guy, then when they were getting water later, he confronted them and started preaching hellfire and brimstone and rage and blood. It scared the crap out of them. Then another hiker, Doodles, ran into him, but the crazy guy was muttering in Spanish.
No, not everything on the trail is safe or sane.
Today I got about as far as Uncle Nick Grindstaff’s famous grave. Lived alone, suffered alone, died alone. I wonder how Uncle Nick would have felt about the bench and the firepit next to his headstone? He’s never alone now. Would that please him or piss him off?
The grave was crumbling, and I wanted some distance between me and Uncle Nicky in case of the zombie apocalypse. But thunderheads were brewing—black, fierce ones. So I chewed out another mile and pitched near an old firepit.
The rain hasn’t come yet, but given the heat and humidity today and the current rising breeze, I’m expecting thunder after dark. The leaves on the ground are rustling here.
I should be in Damascus Thursday afternoon. Not sure how long I’ll need. Two full days, I think, if I have to go pack shopping.
I need to crunch numbers, but I’ve been doing 12 to 14 miles per day. I think I still have a shot, especially if I can do 15 or 16 per day after Damascus. I did some 20s at home, but haven’t been able to replicate that in the wild. I’m getting new shoes and insoles in Damascus. Maybe that will help!