Darlington Shelter [mile 2073.1; SOBO 1054.7]
Darlington Shelter! And by ‘shelter,’ I don’t mean ‘in my tent in the general shelter area’; for the first time in a LONG time, I’m actually in the shelter.
I don’t stay in shelters for many, many reasons. They’re colder than my tent. They’re dirtier than my tent. There are no mice in my tent. Nobody in my tent but me is snoring and farting. I don’t bother other people when I set a 5:00 alarm in my tent. When my air mattress crinkles in my tent, nobody’s sleep is disturbed. I’m not forced to be uncomfortably intimate with strangers in my tent. I can change my clothes and check for ticks in my tent. I can use my indoor plumbing in my tent. If I’m tired I can go to sleep in my tent without having to socialize. I feel marginally safer as a solo femle hiker in a tent. The list goes on!
But there’s one time when being in a shelter makes sense to me, and that’s tonight. Wind (30 mph) and snow and light rain after midnight. There’s nobody else in the shelter. And the shelter has bunks, so there aren’t any cracks underneath me for the wind to gust up.
I hung my footprint like a curtain, for a bit of a windbreak and to reduce the cubic footage my body has to heat. Tomorrow I won’t have to pack up a wet tent in the rain and snow.
Did I mention that I’m alone in the shelter? If somebody else were here, I’d still be in the tent, most likely. Or if there weren’t bunks.
Anyhoo. I survived my night at THE DOYLE. I didn’t hear anything go bump the night. I didn’t sleep well, though—just a couple of hours. It was mostly because of the fear I couldn’t shake, that I was lying in a bed full of lice or fleas. Iew.
The one thing I can say about the Doyle is that it has heaters that work! But get this: They’re old-fashioned gas heaters with pilot lights and open flames in every room. That’s right. Little boxes of fire in all those decrepit rooms. I’m kind of astonished that that giant hulk of dry rot hasn’t exploded.
So I woke up and had breakfast at the strange little diner across the street where a line of old men at the counter stared at me while I ate delicious French toast. I think the fact that I dyed my hair magenta for Halloween isn’t sitting too well with some of the more set-in-their-ways towns.
I hit the trail around 8:00, and had a steep rocky climb back up onto the ridge. The sky was watercolor blue again. I thought it was going to be a warm day and I had to peel off some layers, but don’t you know, it was raw up on the ridgeline and I had to put them on again.
I want to bastardize Willie Nelson and write new lyrics: On the Ridge Again.
So, it was a rocky uphill morning. Then eventually it turned into a less rocky, downhill sort of afternoon. And the crowning glory: toward late afternoon, the trail crossed some farm fields that felt like the old grassy balds down south—but green and not icy.
I was whipped by the end of the day. I had a nice chat with a section hiker named Mailman who said I’d be home for a couple of months recovering, then my feet would start to twitch again. Not another thru-hike, I assured him. And I’d have to sell my house, if the bank doesn’t take it first! 😉
But if i win the lottery, I’m definitely doing the Te Araroa.
And that’s that! The next 24 hours should be interesting, weather wise. Also the privy here is enormous and is called the Taj Mahal. Porcupines have been eating it. Maybe I’ll see another one! Porcupine, that is; I assume I’ll see more privies.