Cove Mountain Shelter [mile 748.5]
Since day 1, I seem to have a universal problem with the second day out of town. It’s always horrible and pear-shaped. I feel awful, things go badly, and I end up with a short day.
Today I got 10 whole miles. And it took me nearly 8 hours.
Here’s the thing, I think. The first day out of town I have a massive boatload of food, but I’m also well rested, well fed, and full of optimism. I generally don’t sleep well the first night out—nightmares, all the old discomforts I forgot in town, too much caffeine in my system. So I wake up on morning 2 with a bad case of tired. By then, the town food’s worn off. The pack feels like I’m carrying Idaho. I’m out of condition from eating nonstop for a day and a half. And my stomach is empty again and crying out for a cheeseburger or ice cream. And I have caffeine withdrawal. So day 2 ends up being miserable.
Today was day 2 and it didn’t break the pattern.
I slept badly and woke up exhausted, but I hit the trail at 6:30. The day was immediately humid, and it got boiling hot as it wore on. At the overlooks, the haze covered the mountains and valleys like fog.
But the day really started going south at around 8, when I stubbed my toe, couldn’t recover fast enough, and went flying. I landed hard on my hands and knees, and my right knee smashed into a rock. The good news is that once again, nothing broke. The bad news? My pants are shredded.
It hurt. A lot.
I tried to get to a shelter to sit and fix myself up, but I couldn’t make it. I found a log, dragged off my pants, and had a look. The knee was skinned and scraped and cut, and I’ll probably end up with anoher legendary bruise, but the pants are done. Can’t even be sewn. I can patch them next time I’m in town, if I can find a patch, but in the meantime all I can do is tape them. And I didn’t want to empty my whole pack into the bug-infested leaves looking for the tape, so I just gave up and put my shorts on.
Of course, the long pants were my insect protection. In about 5 minutes, I had as many mosquito bites. Since I nixed the Off, I don’t have any repellant.
And I was just shaky and hot all day after that. I sweated like a waterfall ain the brutal sun. The trail was rocky, so my feet got chewed up. I needed water and had to walk a quarter mile to a spring, which was a half mile that didn’t count and also took time.
I finally got here at 2:30. This was supposed to be my lunchtime stop. And I was done, done, done.
Also, I found a tick inside my tent. But not on me! I think it jumped in when I was taking off my shoes. (I check for ticks insanely frequently.)
I only saw one hiker all day: Codewalker, this afternoon. (There are two people in the shelter now, eating dinner.) I think a lot of them stopped in Troutville for the trail fest there this weekend. And the rest were heading for a swimming hole and campground 3 miles from here, then the next shelter after this one.
On the other hand, I saw plenty of critters. A snake, a toad, a lizard! They all stayed nice and still while I took their picture. Then just a mile or so ago, I turned a corner and there was a deer standing right in the middle of the trail! I took her picture, but the phone made her the size of a pinhead. I’ll stick it at the bottom, and you can play Where’s Waldo, lol.
Looking forward to sleep. And I think I’ll start my hike over tomorrow.
And I’ll try to think of what I can do in future to reward myself on the dreaded day 2. A little candy maybe? A planned shorter day? I don’t know. I’ll figure something out.