Hertline Campsite [mile 2009.4; SOBO 991.0]
Your inspirational song of the day from the karmic iPod:
Sometimes the trail feels the need to test you. The last few days, I’ve felt tested.
Last night was COLD. I think it was 24 or 25. I actually went Defcon 5 with my winter stuff for the first time—meaning I wore the down hood in addition to all the other puffiness, plus my ski mittens. I was generally warm, but the drafts kept nudging me awake. And let me tell you, I did not get up to pee, even though I had to. I held it all night. There are, in fact, fates worse than death, and getting out of that sleeping bag last night would have been one of them.
So this morning, obviously, what with the cold… hard to motivate. But motivate I did! I got up at 5:00, so I guess I hit the trail at 6:15 or 6:30, but you know what? I didn’t even check my watch. The time of day has become irrelevant. I get up as early as I can manage, I walk as long as I can manage, and when I’m exhausted—whenever that is—I stop. Lather, rinse, repeat.
It took a long time to get warmish today. I never really did, truth be told. I had the long sleeves and the fleece and the wind shirt and the gloves on all day.
In my new hat and buff I look like Elmer Fudd in a blaze orange hijab.
At around 9:00 I came to the sign for the Eagles Nest shelter and was shocked. I knew that was the 2000-mile point, but somehow in the walking I’d simply forgotten. Boom! 2000 miles. I went to take a picture of the Eagles Nest sign [Note: There are few apostrophes on the Appalachian Trail] and happened to look down, and double Boom! Other flippers had come before me and left the heiroglyphs in the leaves. Seeing that made me happy! It felt like the trail community of 2013 still had a pulse, and I was still beating with it.
Oh! Techncally that was mile 1999.9. Guess what I found at actual mile 2000? A bird’s nest. What does that mean?
After that… mile after mile of unvarying scenery and rocks. Cloudy skies with a pale attempt at blue. And here I am at a campsite near a waterfall (I’m well above the water). Everything smells like wet metal.
While I was setting up in the twilight, another hiker came along. We chatted a few seconda and I said, “Thru-hiker?” (He obviously was.) He nodded and said he was a SOBO. I told him I’d flipped, and he said, “Are you Karma?”
Every time I hear that question from a hiker I don’t know, I get a little jolt of weirdness. But the truth is that everybody hiking in a season in the bubble is only two degrees of separation away from everybody else.
This guy was Ramble. He met a hiker named Lil Bit, who was the hiker I was talking to that day I lost my water bottle. I think it was in Vermont.
Ramble said, “Lil Bit picked up your water bottle.”
How funny is that?
“He said you filled it up then just walked away.” Yes, that would be me. Absent-minded professor type.
Ramble intends to finish the whole trail by Christmas. He’ll have to manage 25 miles a day or something. His high so far is 31. He needs a faster trail name.
So there it is. The last 2013 hiker standing? Ramble. And bless his speedy little feet.
Who’s the guy with the wings on his feet?