Stealth camping halfway up Floyd Mountain [mile 758.6]
Another huge 10-mile day! And it only took me 8 hours!
Seriously, I should just bite the bullet and decide whether to flip-flop or stop at 1100 or at some other convenient northern location. But no. I’ll give myself the three strikes, like I said. Which basically postpones the decision for three weeks, because I doubt I’ll manage 85 miles even once.
I don’t even have a good excuse today, except that the day was pretty much uphill, with this massive climb after lunch. Floyd Mountain: 2300 feet elevation gain over 4 miles. I got 3 of them done, came to this stealth site two-thirds of the way up, and decided I’d had enough. And I’m OK with that. I’ll finish with Floyd tomorrow morning when it’s not so hot. (It might be raining, in fact. My forecast is old now.)
I was thinking about that day 2 (and 3) slump. I can’t really carry a food reward—and with my lousy self-restraint, it wouldn’t last until day 2 anyway. The only way I can really reward myself is with sleep and stopping when I’m tired, even if it’s a short day. So I’m not going to set an alarm anymore. I’ll sleep until my body is rested, even if it gives me a late start. It is what it is!
So. There was only one other person at the shelter last night—somebody in a hammock. For all my ‘no-alarm’ stuff, I actually still woke up at 6 or so and hit the trail at about 7:30. The hammock guy was still asleep, as far as I know.
I got to the swimming hole at… oh… 10 or so. I needed water! Cove Mountain Shelter didn’t have a water source (which is why it was just me and the hammock guy). The water smelled a little fishy, literally, but beggars can’t be choosers. Maybe it smelled like hiker, because a massive number of them were aiming for it yesterday!
But get this: I’d been there for no more than a few minutes, trying to decide where to fill my bottles, when I felt a tickle in the small of my back. You got it: a tick! In my freaking pants! And that’s with long pants tucked into socks. And I found another one in the same place just a minute or two later!
Somebody said they probably fell from the trees. If they did, I figure they landed on my legs anyway. They crawled up and under my shirt, which was untucked, then were fishing around, right there at the waist and lower back. It skeeved me right the hell out! So I spent the rest of the day with my shirt tucked into my Ex Officios and my bandanna tied around my neck to cover the neckband of my shirt. I looked like the queen of dweebs, so I was glad the trail was dead again today.
I didn’t see any more of them (and I just did a massively careful tick search with my mirror), but that’s an awfully hot way to hike. All my clothes were literally dripping with sweat.
Most everybody hikes in shorts—sometimes very tiny shorts, with tank tops. Don’t the ticks worry them? I’d love to at least go back to shorts! There must be some sort of compromise between nudity and mummification.
Anyway, right after that… trail magic! Turtle Feet (2011 thru hiker) was at an intersection with her son, Steelhead, with sodas and muffins! Yum! Thanks, Turtle Feet! (She said that the only thing that can end your hike for sure is to stop walking, lol. She also said she took it slow. Oh, and get this! She said she was worried the whole time that she’d end up having to flop-flop, but in the end it all worked out. So there it is.)
And that was really the highlight of the day. I didn’t see another soul. The trail started to climb after that, and eventually I stopped for lunch at Bryant Ridge Shelter. (I keep calling it Lane Bryant Shelter.) It was another super-shelter: new looking, on two levels. If you took out the ladder and put in a staircase, I’d be happy to move in! (Oh, and you’d have to add a bathroom. Although the creek was right outside.)
That reminds me. While I was filling my water bottles, I moved a rock and a little catfish swam out from underneath it. I’m currently drinking catfish water. Virginia definitely has water issues.
So here I am! I saw a deer a little while ago while I was still climbing. Once again, even though the deer was maybe 30 feet away, the phone pic makes it look like it’s in Australia. So… Where’s Waldo!
Tomorrow looks very up and down, but with more down than up, it seems. After I climb the last mile of Floyd, that is.