Day 217: Down on the boardwalk

High Point Shelter [mile 1870.6; SOBO 852.2]

So last night I got thirsty. It was the middle of the night. I unzipped and reached outside the tent for one of my water bottles without putting on my glasses—which is a hassle, what with the finding the bag, opening the bag blind, fishing for the glasses case, pushing them on under the headbands and hats and headlamp, etc. I happened to reach for the bottle that had had an inch of Gatorade in it when I filled it.

I brought it into the tent and put it down and zipped the tent and went for a drink and saw something moving: an ant on the floor of the tent. Then another ant. Then another ant. I went through the rigamarole of getting the glasses and realized, finally, that the Gatorade bottle must have been covered with ants. Which were now crawling all over the inside of my tent.

ARGH.

They were everywhere! I put the bottle outside then spent a quarter hour in an ant frenzy, finding them and tossing them out of the tent.

I hate ants. Once I woke up in a bed full of ants. Twice I’ve walked into my kitchen to find the place covered with a million ants like an army invasion. A wisewoman once told me that ants mean patience; if you have an encounter with them, the universe is teling you to be more patient. I don’t know. I think sometimes the universe is telling you to shovel ants out the tent door.

When I woke up in the frigid air this morning, I found a couple of frozen bodies, but that was it. I packed up as fast as I could manage, given that every fiber of my being wanted to stay under the covers forever.

It was a cold, gray morning, but dawn filled the sky with muted pink and pale blue. I reached a wildlife preserve (which always seems to mean ‘birds,’ more or less) and watched the day melt the frost off the cattails and tangled swamp grass. The vast pool to the left was filled eith honking geese. I wondered why they all honk at once; seems like a one-on-one system would work better.

After that came a long roadwalk, then the decision: skip Unionville, or walk the 7/10 mile for breakfast. My food was still a little short and I’d made great progress early, so I decided to sprint in.

Good decision! I had a breakfast sandwich and coffee, then made it back to the trail with enough time that come noon, I was slipping down the driveway to the top-secret shelter that everybody knows about.

Another milestone!

The ‘shelter’ is actually a tiny cabin owned by a hiker and trail angel named Jim. The property has a well, a privy, and a shower… not to mention electricity, which is why I have enough juice to upload some entries at the moment. And donkeys! Two actual donkeys!

Horselike objects scare the crap out of me, but Jim took me back and introduced me to the donkeys. They’re two brothers. One’s named Republican, and the other’s Democrat. I have no idea how Jim tells them apart. Cute! I even petted one… right up to the point where Jim said “He might test you by taking a little nip at you. It won’t hurt.” Shades of trail dogs! No; these guys had bigger teeth.

Anyway, thank you, Jim, for being so generous with your space!

After that, the weather took a downturn. The temperature dropped steadily and the sky turned severe. By the time I got the tent pitched, it was spitting icy rain.

And here I am! Winter is back. And so is nighttime.

In 45 miles, I’ll be crossing into Pennsylvania. Trail willing.

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Categories: Appalachian Trail | Tags: | 19 Comments

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19 thoughts on “Day 217: Down on the boardwalk

  1. Beth

    Ants are like teeny tiny porcupines without quills but i believe the pinches and venom makeup for it. Is there a reason you do not keep your drink inside? Fun donkey stories, makes up for not seeing the ponies. Stay warm and thanks once again for bringing us along.

  2. Love the donkey pics. But I will just stick with chickens. You are doing great. Stay warm there is a cold snap coming.
    Ed

  3. jim beauchamp

    No other words for it. You are amazing. It’s going to seem terribly dull when you’ve completed this journey and no more entries are forthcoming. Your photographic eye and descriptive writing abilities are both wonderful and admirable. We’ve looked forward to them and will feel deprived!

    Safe travel and great success are wished for you with many thanks.

  4. Marge

    I so want to comment on which donkey is Dem and which is Rep, outside of the obvious, but I will not go there. I remember your ant invasion. You would think one invasion per lifetime is more than enough. Apparently not. “Come on, boys! I know where we can get juiced, but the window of opportunity goes fast. Tell the neighboring villagers, too. Our sugar high will be gone before sun up. We must hurry!”

  5. Ryan

    Karma, you’re killing me. I had no idea you’d be just about the most fun thing to happen to me in 2013 when I met you on that midafternoon train to Georgia at the dawn of March. Watching you put one foot in front of the other for eight months has been an incredible source of perspective this year. I haven’t got much to say about it except that I think you’re amazing. Keep it up, savor these last few weeks, and find an agent- this story has everything from bears to broken p-styles!! Best, R

  6. I agree with Jim and Ryan. When you finish up life is going to be boring and your writing is amazing. So glad you let us all come along for the hike!

  7. Pflug

    Linda, when you get into Central Pa. stop at the sign post that is at the head of the Horseshoe Trail. My friend Joan and I just completed the trail today and left you a little something under the rocks that are piled around the AT mileage sign that is there. (the sign points to Rt 325 and Yellow Springs I think). Good hiking!

    • Oooh, thanks! I can’t wait to get there!

      Congratulations on finishing the Horseshoe Trail! And I can’t wait to hear about the Camino.

  8. jack

    Nice to have met at HPSP. Did it get colder or,what!? Makes you want to have many cups of coffee! Hope all goes well . Perhaps we’ll meet again ,someday.Best of luck on the rest of your journey,,,,,,,,,,,,,,snorz

    • Snorz! Thank you again, SO MUCH! I got to drink some coffee this morning and I thought of you!

      Thanks for the tip about the water in the bear box, too. Water’s really problematic about now.

  9. Tom and I were just singing the Pink Panther song yesterday. Now that song makes me think of you. šŸ™‚

    You are doing such a great job Linda. Enjoy PA and all the rest to come.

    • The Pink Panther! šŸ™‚ Mrow!

      Miss you, Erin. I was just thinking it would be nice to be mailing in my last packet around now.

  10. Hey Karma! I tented overnight (at the top of the hill overlooking the cabin) at Jim’s “secret” property in 2011. What a gorgeous place, and what a kind generous man Jim Murray is to hikers! Your fall photos continue to be spectacular! So proud of you for chipping away at the miles each day. ~~Flame

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