Day 91: Ghosts

Brown Mountain Creek Shelter [mile 800.3]

800, baby!

I’d bake us a cake to celebrate, if I could! Then again, if I could I’d just do it and eat the whole thing for no reason at all. I think my hiker hunger has finally arrived.

My field of weeds was cold when I woke up! Took me a little time to get moving, but eventually I did. First up: a long climb up a mountain where there was a memorial for Ottie Kline Powell, a boy who died on that spot in 1891 at age 4. Little Ottie’s spirit allegedly haunts Punchbowl Shelter. I stayed at the memorial for a bit; it was deeply moving, even though Ottie died so long ago. How scared he must have been! I told him he had been greatly loved; then I left my stone and hiked on.

After a long descent came the sign for Punchbowl Shelter. I’d so wanted to stay there last night to see if Little Ottie showed up! Couldn’t make it, though—and there was no sign of him in the bright light of day. Just one thru-hiker (Jackalope) and three section hikers, a dad and his two daughters. I leapfrogged with them yesterday. In any event, I couldn’t have been more moved at the shelter than I was up at the memorial. Rest in peace, Little Ottie.

After Little Ottie, the day was fairly uneventful. The trail is still kind of dead. There are a few little towns nearby(ish), and I suspect hikers are off the trail… and far ahead of me, of course!

The weather turned hot for a brief time, but it’s cool and cloudy again now.

I was hoping to duplicate yesterday’s trend, or better it, but the mountain up to Little Ottie and the one that came after lunch did me in. Still, I got 13 miles (but only 12.5 or so count).

One not-so-fun thing: when I stopped for a break this afternoon, I spotted a deer tick climbing my leg. Deer ticks: you know, the tiny Lyme disease kind. I didn’t even feel it. I just happened to be looking down and saw the movement. Just like a regular tick, but tiny! I can’t wait to get permethrin on my clothes! Also, I read in a trail register that Blood Orange is using DEET now. He didn’t mention melting his tent. I think I’m going for it again. It’ll give my arms and legs a break. I must have a hundred bug bites, mostly flies and no-see-ums and piranha gnats, although the mosquitos are coming out in force just about now. My main issue with DEET was my pole handles, and at the moment I’m not using poles.

The trail followed water for most of the afternoon. Then about a mile from the shelter was a surprise bench and a plaque, right alongside Brown Mountain Creek. Apparently this mile of trail was once a thriving community of freed slaves. There are historical remnants of the community among the trees—like the old flood wall on the far side of the creek, now mossy and draped with vines.

A solemn kind of day, I think.

Oh! One not-so-solemn moment! People rave about soaking their feet in streams. When the sharp heel pain started, I passed a convenient (and rocky) stream—a gorgeous spot. So I decided what the hell, I’ll give it a try.

Not a fan. 🙂

That water was frigid. I could only stand it for a few minutes; then trying to get my toe socks back onto my clammy feet took some doing. On the other hand, my feet are currently the cleanest parts of my body. And believe me, that’s not usually the case!

Also, I’m probably going to run out of phone battery 2 or 3 days from Waynesboro. I haven’t been able to check email all week (although I managed to get a couple of texts out yesterday), but trying for a signal a couple of times a day (or worse, having it tell me there’s a signal then hang for 2 or 3 minutes before telling me it can’t get my email) eats the battery. Using the phone for pictures, writing a journal entry, and reading for a half-hour or an hour uses about 30%. If I try two or three times to get a signal, it’s easy to use 40% to 50% in a single day (and frustrating when I still can’t get my email). The Newtrent charger gets me about 2 to 2.5 charges under real-world conditions, which is extraordinarily helpful. But I still need to conserve better. At least while I’m on the longer-hke plan. Which may not be for long, what with the conflicting more-food plan.

Damn. I want cake. A cheeseburger, fries, and a plain old vanilla cake with vanilla frosting. And a side of Mike and Ikes. And a lemonade. And a Dairy Queen Heath bar blizzard without the choclate syrup. And I still haven’t had my baked potato! Make it two, with a pint of sour cream.

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Categories: Appalachian Trail | Tags: | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “Day 91: Ghosts

  1. Mary Aikens

    This post appears twice, Day 91 & Day 92, so I think we missed Day 92 entry
    ?

    • It might take a refresh or something. They’re showing up in my browser in the right order now. Although I need to doublecheck the duplicate. Didn’t think of that. I’ll look right now! Thanks!

  2. Deet thinking from a complete stranger, and it’s only the 90 pct stuff that melts tents or trekking poles. Regular Off has 30 percent Deet sor something, and it works just fine. Go for it. Better than bites.

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