Old Orchard Shelter [mile 505.9; mpd 7.91]
It’s hard to motivate when it’s cold, when it’s windy, or when it’s raining. When it’s all three and you also have to put on yesterday’s cold, soaked socks and clothes, I defy anybody to do it graciously. Not to mention quickly.
But here’s an amusing body function story for you, since I haven’t told one in a while. Plus it’s a nice change from ‘woke up late, didn’t want to get out of bed.’ I was lying there in denial for a good hour when I realized I had to use the privy. I pretended I didn’t and stayed under the quilt, but it became increasingly apparent that I was going to have to deal with the situation. Normally, camping alone, I’d get up, go into the woods a distance, and dig my hole. But this shelter has no room for tents; it’s a rocky nightmare. So what do we have when I look out? Tent city! Five tents crammed into this one tiny flat spot.
So I pulled my rain pants and rain jacket on over my pajamas, stuffed my feet into my crocs, and gamboled like a billy goat over the rocks down to the privy by the shelter.
Once you’ve splashed into frigid mud puddles in your crocs, packing up the rest of the gear in the cold windy rain becomes that much easier.
OK, that really wasn’t so funny. But it kind of sets the theme for the day anyway.
I heard a pony at around 7 AM! It was so close to tent city that I unzipped and peeked out. I couldn’t see the pony, but when i finally got out and on my way, there were fresh hoofprints and a massive pile of pony poop right near the tents. ‘Take that, people!’ That’s what that pony was saying.
Here’s how the day went: wall of fog, winds strong enough to grab my pack and knock me over, rain coming down in solid sheets for hours, and temperatures that I don’t think got higher than 50, if that. Once again, weather is hammering the class of ’13.
I couldn’t see anything of the Grayson Highlands because the fog was so thick, but I could tell it was beautiful! Rock scrambles that were easy enough to be fun and technical enough to be interesting. Moor-like hills that Heathcliff might have walked, with dun grasses and rust-colored trees… great gray rocks. Stunning. And pony poop everywhere! But no ponies. They were too smart to be out today—-as were most hikers.
Oh! Heard on the HGN: A few nights ago a group of hikers came to Thomas Knob Shelter on Mt. Rogers. The weather was so bad—-icicles falling out of the trees and such—-that they turned around and headed back to Damascus. I don’t think I buy that one. Or if it happened, it was section hikers who didn’t mind ending their trip early. Thru hikers would have gone down the other side of the mountain.
Anyway, I really regret not being able to see the Grayson Highlands. And ponies. The AT is the last thing on my bucket list, but I may start a new list with the Grayson Highlands at the top of it.
So it stayed winter all day. The trail was a river, treacherous and slippery. I mean really. Like Fifteen said tonight, that’s the farthest he’s ever walked in a creek. In places the mud was ankle deep. The surrounding woods seemed pretty, but frankly it was raining so very hard today and the footing was so tricky that I didn’t spend much time looking up. It’s supposed to clear up tomorrow, then a few more days of rain. Right now I’m in my tent, and guess what?! It’s raining! Also, my socks are in a tree because I keep thinking the rain is over. I hope they don’t blow away.
Today was the kind of day that had me thinking that this should be a punishment. “Eat your peas or I’ll make you hike the Appalachian Trail!” “If you’re late for work one more time, you have to hike the Appalachian Trail!” “Shut up and give me fifty miles!” But that’ll pass. I know summer is coming, and if I sound like a broken record, well… summer is coming! One of these years.
Speaking of which… 500 miles! Today! Now that’s a huge milestone! Normally I’d insert a YouTube link to the song 500 Miles (“And I would walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more ” etc, etc). but once again I have no internet service to speak of. Thank gods my sister’s checking my work email.
Ooh, oooh, the weather changed. It started to rain harder! 🙂
There are quite a few hikers in this shelter. It’s always good to see Fifteen. I don’t recognize any other voices, but I did meet a new hiker witb a great trail name: Blood Orange. I told him it sounds vaguely sinister but sweet. He started March 11, which is nice to hear.
Hopefully I’ll be able to upload these entries soon. Otherwise Pearisburg is going to be a big data dump!