Day 106: Pea soup

Um… I don’t know, really. Mile 926? OK, sure.

I’m stealth camped somewhere within two miles of the Skyland resort. Truth be told, today was one day where I could have eeked out another couple of miles. But I realized something about how I’m hiking in Virginia: My biggest fear is not being able to find a campsite when my feet have called it a day. It happened last night, and it was terrifying. After literally limping for over an hour I was worried that I’d have to pitch my tent right on the trail after dark. Virginia’s a little stingy with the campable spots! Although as it turned out, if I’d gone another 45 minutes there was a patch of plentiful flattish spaces. It’s the not knowing that’s frightening.

And the best shot for ‘knowing’ is to aim for a hut (ie, a shelter). The problem with that is that I’ll always get there late in the day. And in late June there are boy scout troops and all manner of hikers filling up those shelter spots. You can’t be sure there’ll be room for your tent when you get there. (And the demeanor of the trail has changed with the advent of summer camping season. It used to be that hikers would always move aside to squeeze you in; now there’s less cameraderie, and people on the trail are more distant and more territorial. They’re still wearing their ‘city’ hustle, and trail etiquette is mostly out the window, or at least not guaranteed.)

So how do you give yourself the best chance of finding a shelter tent spot? You get there early. And how do you get there early? You take advantage of one of the best features of Shenandoah—the practically unlimited ability to recharge your phone!

In other words, you set an alarm.

Tonight’s spot is flatter than I’ve been getting (not level, mind you; despite rumors to the confrary, nothing in Virginia is level. It’s not raining for once (at least not now). I’m going to try to sleep well and get up early. Even if I have a quick breakfast at Skyland, I should be able to get to Pass Mountain Hut by about 4:30. I’m going to try! I’d really like to get to the halfway point on July 4, so I need to make some miles. It’ll probably be cold in the morning, so I’ll need a dose of kick-in-the-butt. Kick me!

So. The day. It was pouring rain when I woke up, as usual. Is it ever sunny in Shenandoah? I lingered, hoping it would clear, but it didn’t. After I was up and outside the tent and squeezing my soaked fly into my soaked pack, I realized the problem wasn’t rain—it was pea soup fog, wind-driven and dripping so hard that it was acting like rain beneath the trees. A lot of rain.

Visibility was as bad as I’ve seen it—no more than ten or twenty feet. I eventually made it to Big Meadow, and guess who was there having breakfast? Freebird, Red Specs, and Whirled Peas. I ate and got the phone up to 80% before the waitress kicked me out.

It was chilly, but the fog had lessened a little. And after I’d gone two miles, guess who I bumped into going southbound? Freebird! She got turned around coming out of the campground. So we hiked together all day!

Oh, oh, let me backtrack. About a mile after breakfast, my gut decided it had had enough greasy delicious food, and it declared a claxon warning. Emergency poop! The trail was sparsely covered with trees, so I went far, far, far info the woods—or twenty feet, anyway. I found my spot at the split second my body decided I needed it. Then afterward when I turned around to hide the evidence in the ‘leave no trace’ manner, I realized fhere was a side trail not five feet away… and a lot of tents just up the hill. D’oh!

So anyway, after that I met Freebird. She’s a hiking beast. She can do 20, 25… a lot of miles. And she’s fast! No foot problems. But she hurt her hip yesterday and wanted a slow day, so she decided to stick with me until my feet were done, then she planned to keep on going to the next shelter.

It was fun! She told a lot of stories; in fact, we chatted most of the day. It really passed the time. πŸ™‚ Then, alas, I had to stop, and she kept on going. We exchanged phone info, though, since if I flip we’ll be north at around the same time.

Speaking of flipping, 50/50 texted me. He’s got some bad injury issues and he’s off the trail for a few weeks. He’s now planning to flipflop. So there’s one more flipflopping compadre.

Now the sun is out and a strong wind is blowing… hopefully carrying away the last of this wet front. My rainfly is almost dry from last night’s downpour.

Critter report: Found a baby snake near my tent spot. I saved it!

My food weight is getting more manageable (although seriously, I might not even have to buy food in Harper’s Ferry; I bungled this resupply so badly!) I hope I can squeeze out some Karma-sized big miles for the rest of Shenandoah and into Harper’s Ferry.

Here’s some pics. Look! My lucky number on a wayside menu! And Red Specs and Whirled Peas! And terrible pictures of me, as usual!

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Categories: Appalachian Trail | Tags: | 14 Comments

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14 thoughts on “Day 106: Pea soup

  1. Derek Vreeland

    The more you talk about flip-flopping in your blog posts, the more I think that it would be a great idea. There are those who say you miss out on the big finale (i.e. Katahdin), but I guess that becomes a personal decision. Is the BIG finale really standing on the summit of Katahdin, kissing the sign or is the BIG finale completely all 2200 miles of the trail? I guess every hiker must answer that for herself (himself), but for you it seems like flip-flopping would work, because you will have time on your side. You would have the option of taking a break in the middle, but maybe the temptation to stay off trail after your break would be too great. I don’t know. I am just thinking out loud. Blessings to you Karma! And hike on!

    • I’m actually starting to like the idea a lot. I do the hardest parts while I’m in trail shape but not beat to death. I finish close to home.

      And I’m thinking he big lesson for me in all tuis is that it’s the journey… not the destination.

      I’m already looking at logistics. πŸ™‚

      • Derek Vreeland

        Makes perfect sense. I say: GO FOR IT!

  2. Rackman

    Keep on your schedule, I’ve found when adjusting on the fly things don’t always work out. I Enjoy your comments and pictures, keep up the good journey, if you feel comfortable in kicking it into another gear try it out and see how you feel.
    When the good weather comes out that’s when the rookies show up I call it amateur hour. They are fair weather fans, I like to say when the going gets tough the tough get going. Be safe enjoy yourself.

  3. Marge

    That’s a good pic of you, although you are getting a wee bit harder to find! I don’t know if any of this will help you, but it sometimes works for me: I try to clear my head by looking up and out a little more often. So, maybe look up an extra time or two when your on the trail and a tiny bit less of head down, forge ahead. Look for more bunnies! Although it must be difficult with all your wonderful encounters with such awesome people, somebody once told me to only compare me to me. Karma, you are magnificent! Be gentle with yourself. There is NO “failing” at anything you are doing, thinking, saying. Remember, you are a human BE-ing! You ARE the miracle! xo

  4. Beth

    You look thin……good, happy and thin. Enjoy every mile however you decide to do it. Beth

    • Everybody loses a ton of weight out here. You can’t carry enough to eat what you’re burning. But we all gain it back. πŸ™‚

  5. I’m always glad to see your posts in my mailbox. Rock on, sistah!

  6. I just noticed your pants are falling off your body. Hit a dunkin donuts, will ya?

  7. Great shots, Linda! I love your new hairstyle.

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