Stealthing [mile 1790.1; SOBO 771.7]
Lately I’ve felt a little like an AT tour guide. Julie, your cruise director! Most of the very few people I see nowadays are dayhikers or folks walking their dogs, and—-minus the occasional section hiker, who are joys to see—they don’t really know what the AT is, or how long a hike it is. I end up answering a lot of questions, usually the same ones. It’s fun, though. It’s nice to have a little interaction, and I get to put a good face on hikers for those people. They’re pretty funny, though. One lady the other day could NOT wrap her head around the fact that my car isn’t parked somewhere nearby. Most people just want to know what I do for food. They’re all dumfounded that I’ve hiked 1800 miles alone. (They’d never ask a guy that.)
I enjoyed my night in the bunk! Two guys came in around dinnertime. They were driving home from the Gathering, which is a big hiking weekend run by ALDHA, the Appalachian Long-Distance Hikers’ Association. I might go next year. But I digress (as usual)! The company turned the cabin into more of a shelter, which means different manners came into play.
Specifically, I don’t inflict my inhuman 4:30 or 5:00 AM wakeup and packup ritual on strangers. It’s just not courteous. It’s loud and bright. So this morning I forced myself to stay under the quilt until it was almost dawn—abiut 6:30 or so. Hardship! (Not.) It was cold this morning: full white breath-blast cold. I was happy to stay snug an extra while. And I still hit the trail by 7:10—something I want to ponder. If I have a shelter to myself, I could cut my startup time in half. The trick, though, is how do you know you’ll be the only one, when hikers habitually roll in after 7:00 or 8:00 even now?
So I got up and walked! Another perfect day. Chilly and lovely and sunny and leafy. It was Columbus Day, so a lot of dayhikers were out enjoying the late great weather. It’s supposed to turn to rain and cold gloom later in the week. More fall-like, and less happy.
I hit a landmark today: the rock painting of the flag, a 9/11 memorial. Interestingly, it faces south. A SOBO comes across it and it’s oriented correctly; a NOBO comes across it and it’s upside-down. I don’t know if there’s any significance to the orientation, but I suspect there is, because there were also compasses painted up there.
After that, it was more of the same. New York felt a little less urban today, and a little more woodsy. Still plenty of up and down, and plenty of rocks.
Water’s starting to get tricky. The streams are often dry. I’ve been warned about this. I can’t really carry more than 2 liters, and even that causes a lot of shoulder pain. I’ll have to play with strategies—including buying bottled water when I make my deli stops, for as long as those continue to be an option.
For now… stealthing! I’ll probably overnight in town tomorrow and get some of these entries uploaded.
Also tomorrow: 1800 miles! About 350 to go; slightly more than half a Virginia. 🙂