What started out as an adventure, ended in retreat…
Last Tuesday I left work with a smile. I had big plans for the weekend, however, those plans actually kicked off on the following day. Before the real plans could take way though, I had a long drive ahead of me, so I had requested to leave work early on Wednesday in order to get on the road at a reasonable hour. As I walked out of work that day though, things looked even better than expected! It looked like instead of just getting off of work early the next day, I would be off for the entire day! This was music to my ears as it meant that I could get on the road much earlier than anticipated…
I eagerly drove home and went through all of my gear one more time (as if I hadn’t done it a number of times already), although I still managed to find some little things to change anyway. I moved some things around on my pack, and then after re-checking the weather forecast, I decided to add in my umbrella for a bit more rain protection. I also threw in an extra breakfast since it looked like I would actually be there earlier than I had anticipated. After going through my gear list (again), I then began to check and make sure I had locations loaded into my GPS, as well as any other miscellaneous items I would need en route…. Then I waited some more…
Sure enough, by 9 am on Wednesday morning, I had finished loading everything into my car and was setting my destination on the GPS. I had already filled my belly with breakfast, dropped the kids off at school and exchanged hugs and kisses with my wife. Now it was time to get going…
I had approximately 360 miles to cover along the winding, paved roads before reaching my end destination. I listened to a couple of CD’s and then realized that I had not downloaded the most recent podcast from The Trail Show (which is what I usually listen to while making these long drives). So, I pulled up the site on my phone and thanks to a series of mobile network services, I was able to download it while cruising down the road. About 20 minutes later, I began listening to Episode 10 of The Trail Show.
The next few hours were pretty much just a blur. I drove, listened to music and the latest Trail Show podcast, and then realized I still had quite a way to go… so I drove some more. Of course, I also stopped a couple of times to grab a quick lunch, and to fill up on gas. Finally, around 3:30 pm I was getting pretty close, so I stopped by an Arby’s in the last little town I was driving through to pick up a sandwich for dinner that night.
At 4:30 I was driving over Wayah Gap and looking for the parking area! Once I figured out where it was, I quickly parked my car next to only other car in the lot, located just below a small picnic area. Once parked, I jumped out of my car, glad to be done driving and full of excitement… I was finally here!
My plan at this point was to start hiking that afternoon, just to get a bit of a head start on the hike (for no other reason that to just be on the trail). But first, I planned to eat my Arby’s sandwich, and needed to change into my hiking clothes. So, I decided to take advantage of the picnic tables I saw just up the hill from the parking area. After all, it was a nice day and I didn’t feel like being crammed in the car any longer… I wanted to be outdoors, and to be free! So, I grabbed my Arby’s bag and headed up towards the picnic tables.
As I began climbing the little hill, I noticed the top of a tent, then as I got farther up the hill I also noticed a young guy and a girl sitting at one of the other picnic tables. At first I thought that these were the owners of the car I parked next too, but then I saw their packs sitting next to them and I thought not. I waved to them and they returned the wave. I asked them if the were thru-hiking, and they replied “Yep.”
We briefly spoke a bit more, and then I sat at one of the tables to eat my sandwich. At this point the young guy asked me how far down the road Arby’s was. I told him it was about 30 miles or a little more, at which he sighed at… While finishing my sandwich I noticed that there was another person inside the tent I first saw when walking towards the picnic tables. Another thru hiker!
After I finished eating I talked with the hikers a little more and had decided that instead of starting my hike that night, I would just pitch my tent here and stay the night. I didn’t need to start hiking early since the first day was short at only 10 miles. Plus my belly was full again, and I liked being here with the other hikers. So, I pulled my pack from the car, found a spot of somewhat level ground and pitched my tent.
Once I got everything all situated in my “home” for the night, I headed up the side trail which led from the Appalachian Trail (AT) down towards the picnic area. I was finally back on the trail… I breathed in… and it was good!
I turned left on the AT and walked north the short distance back towards the road. The next morning I would be heading south, so I needed to make sure that my feet also touched the trail on this small section. It was a short walk, but it was nice. Once I got to the road I pulled out my camera and began to shoot the first part of my video.
After shooting some video, I returned to my camp. I spoke with the young guy and the girl for another few minutes. As we were talking, about 4 or 5 other hikers hike past used along the AT, heading north to the next shelter up for the night. After a bit I retreated into my tent for a little bit of a nap. After driving into the sun all morning I had a bit of a headache, so I decided to pop 2 Vitamin I’s, and lie down for a while.
An hour later I was feeling a little relief so I got back up. I had already ate my dinner for the night, but I also packed up stuff for an extra hot tea that night. So, I grabbed my Jetboil Sol Ti, my MLD mug (complete with a set of Hot Lips and a DY reflectix cozy) some water and my tea bag, then began to (quickly) boil water for a nice, relaxing, cup of hot tea.
After I finished my tea I cleaned everything up and then packed away all of my food inside my car. I could have thrown my bear line, but with my car only a couple hundred feet away, I figured why not take advantage of it. Also, the rain was supposed to start sometime in the early morning, so it would be one less wet thing to start my hike with.
After I got everything all squared away, I walked around the area a little more, waiting on the sun to fall out of the sky completely before crawling into my own bed. I noticed that the young couple that I was talking with earlier had set up their tent inside a little cove, somewhat protected from the rain that we expected that night, and that they had already retreated into their own tent for the night. As I walked around and waited for my own time to take shelter, I was entertained by the sound of a song bird, which made the night that much better. The sky was still barely lit, the trees were more of a silhouette against the fading sky, and this bird sang beautifully!
The sun did eventually fade and gave way to the night. As the hour grew later, the night grew darker due to the clouds rolling in. There were no stars to lay back and gaze at tonight. The temperature slowly dropped, and I snuggled deeper under my quilt. I pulled out my Kindle and picked up where I left off in the book “The Last Englishman” by Keith Foskett (AKA” Fozzie) and began reading. And of course, it just so happened that the chapter I started out with was entitled “Chapter 10: Ghosts on the trail.”
After my little nap earlier, I was actually quite refreshed. I laid there and read for about an hour, and then after realizing that it was getting late but I wasn’t getting sleepy, I decided to pop a couple of Tylenol PM’s. After this, I read for about another 30 minutes and then turned out the lights…
Around 1 am I woke up from a series of strange dreams and the sound of rain on my tent. Thanks to Fozzie’s book and the pills, I had dreamed that a bear was sniffing around my tent, and then another dream in which some cats had torn holes in my tent with their little, tiny, razor-sharp claws, which left me somewhat exposed to the rain that happened to be falling. After realizing it was all just dreams, I quickly crawled out of my tent and took off to relieve myself.
After crawling back into my tent, I then decided to change into my down clothes. The temps had continued to drop and now the rain was really driving it down. After changing, I snuggled up deep under my quilt again and made myself comfortable. It wasn’t long before I was out again… however, this time, I didn’t have any strange dreams…
I woke up again around 7:30 am the next morning. The darkness had started to lift and a little bit of gray light was coming into the tent. However, the rain was still falling, and it was cold. My watch told me it was 36 F inside my tent. I laid there for a while, just listening to the rain fall, wondering if it would break so that I could break camp and get started hiking.
30 minutes later, I realized that I was just going to have to make a run for it in the rain, or at least a short run. Since my food and stove was in the car, I again decided to make the most out of it by deciding to boil my water for my coffee and to eat my breakfast muffins in the car. So, I changed out of my warm down layers, put on my cold (but clean at this point) hiking clothes, slipped on my Inov-8’s, grabbed my water and my umbrella and made a dash for the car.
Once I was in my car, I took full advantage of it by cranking it up and kicking the heater to high. Next, I pulled out the Jetboil, screwed the fuel canister to the stove, poured a little water into the pot and fired it up.** Then just a couple of minutes later I had a nice, warm cup of coffee in one hand, and some blueberry muffins in the other! I consumed my breakfast inside a warm car, watching the rain hitting the windshield. (Yeah, I cheated, but it was my hike…)
By the time I finished eating and cleaning up inside the car, the rain had slowed some. I grabbed my umbrella and my water bottle and walked a little ways past where I had parked my car to a water source I had found the night before. I refilled my water bottle and then headed back towards camp. I stopped back by at my car and grabbed my food bag and my stove and mug, then made my way back to my tent.
Back inside the tent, I started packing everything up and then loading it all back into my pack. But, by the time I had it all just about packed away, the rain picked back up! So, I finished up and then decided to sit there and wait it out some more… Finally, around 9 am I decided it just wasn’t going to let up so I again slipped my shoes on, grabbed my pack and my umbrella and made a dash for the car. I slung my pack inside the car and then went back up the hill to take my tent down.
After I got the tent down I went back to the car for the last time (or so I thought). I jumped inside and packed away my wet tent inside my pack. Made final adjustments on everything, then threw my pack cover over my pack. I finally stepped outside my car, strapped my multipack (with my camera gear inside) around my waist, threw my pack on, flipped open my umbrella, locked the doors on my car (first making sure that the car key was inside my pocket), grabbed my poles and began hiking!
I hiked back up the hill toward the picnic area and then up the little side trail until I reached the AT. When I came to the cairn that marked the trail, I made a right and started my hike heading south…
So, the big picture was for me to begin my hike at Wayah Gap and finish a few days later at Deep Gap. This is a 30 mile stretch which, for me, was meant to connect 2 longer pieces of the Appalachian Trail that I had already hiked. I would begin my hike on Thursday morning headed south. One of my buddies had talked about possibly meeting me on Thursday night at Rock Gap Shelter and then hiking with me the rest of the way, although he was not sure he would be able to make it. Then, another buddy was going to meet us both at Deep Gap, where we would stay Saturday night, and then he would shuttle us to our cars the next morning.
It did not go this way…
When I began hiking Thursday morning, it was cold, and it was still raining. The trail had already turned into a mess. The flat spots were either standing pools of water, or mushy muddy messes that were slippery. When heading either up or down the mountain, the trails were running streams of water and mud. I also noticed that all the branches on the trees were actually covered in ice, which weighted them down into the trail.
The hike out of Wayah Gap and up to Siler’s Bald was a pretty easy hike though. The incline was pretty gradual, which made it an easy hike. However, I noticed that as my elevation increased, so did the wind. As a result, I was walking though a lot of falling ice, however, I started my hike with my umbrella deployed, which made me realize that it didn’t just protect me from rain, but also from the falling clumps of ice. As well, as I gained elevation and the winds picked up, I could also turn the umbrella into the wind a bit to help block some of it, although, at times the wind actually contorted my umbrella a good bit and I found myself wondering if the little umbrella was going to hold up.
I met a number of other thru hikers headed north that morning, most of which decided that it was too cold, wet and windy to stand around and chat, so we passed with a quick hello or a word of encouragement. However, a few did compliment me on the umbrella for the simple fact that they were tired of getting hit in the head with the ice falling from the trees… This actually made me appreciate the umbrella even more…
As a side note, before I left home, I had strapped my pack on and tinkered around with a hands free set-up for the umbrella, and of course it all worked quite well. I was quite sure it would work on the trail. However, I quickly found that it just didn’t feel like working out quite like it had at home, on the trail. So, I ended up having to hold the umbrella with one hand, which only left me one other hand to use a trekking pole. I hiked the rest of the day with one hand on the umbrella and one on a trekking pole. As for the second pole, I collapsed it as short as it would go and slipped the handle under my sternum strap. Since the poles collapsed rather short, this worked out fine.
I began hiking quite slowly for the simple fact that I didn’t have far to hike that day, and that the elevation change was actually in my favor, not to mention the foul weather. I took the time to take care to place my feet in the driest, least muddy spot I could along-side the trail. Then of course I had to duck and dodge, or just push my way through all the drooping ice branches with my umbrella as my shield.
I soon came out to the large bald which marked the end of the only real climb I had for the day. However, on this open, exposed bald, the wind was blowing more and due to all the fog I couldn’t see much. So, I quickly walked across it and to the wooded area on the opposite side. Once I got there, I noticed a sign for the Siler’s Bald Shelter. The sign was actually leaning against a post (likely the one it was at one point attached to). The arrow pointing the way was pointed in the direction of an old road that led off from the AT. Despite that it was listed at being 0.5 miles off the AT, I had planned to stop here for a quick bite since it would actually give me some shelter from the rain and wind.
I started hiking down the side trail/road. It quickly started heading down… and continued heading down. I started thinking if it was worth it to hike so far down for half a mile, but I wanted to shoot some more video, and of course to eat some food without having to stand in the rain to do so. So, I hiked on… and on… about 10 minutes later I started having second thoughts. I slowed my hike and then decided to just turn back around.
Once I made it back up to the bald, I turned back south along the AT and told myself that once I came to a spot that was either somewhat sheltered, or the rain stopped, I would then stop and have a snack.
The trail began heading down for the next 4 miles (didn’t I say that the elevation change was in my favor?). After hiking about 15 minutes down hill, I came to an intersection. The AT went to the right, and straight ahead was a blue-blazed trail. The sign at the trail head stated that the blue-blazed trail led to Siler’s Bald Shelter! Wait, what?! I stood there for a bit and processed this. I wasn’t sure if I should slap myself on the head for taking the trail earlier, or if I should have patted myself on the back for deciding to turn around when on the side trail. I then wondered if it was just a big loop… The only way for me to figure it out was for me to head to the shelter…
However, I decided against it. I knew that all the downhill hiking I had to do would be rather easy, and I could just find a spot to stop somewhere farther down the trail for a bite to eat. Nevermind the fact that the weather had not gotten any better than earlier, and in fact, maybe a little worse, although, this could have also been due to the higher elevation I was currently at.
As I began hiking down again, I started meeting a number of other hikers, both weekend hikers (like myself) as well as thru hikers. Some stopped and talked with me for a bit while others were simply trudging on (rightfully so considering the weather). Despite the fact that I never got any views, and the fact that the trail and the weather was nasty, there was also a magical feel. The ice in the trees and the fog actually made things look like something that I would see in the movies. As well, I came across a number of small streams and briefly watched the water rolling around and over all the moss-covered rocks. I really wanted to stop and take out my camera and shoot some pictures, however, the blowing rain kept me from it.
The temperature also felt like it was still dropping, which was evidenced by all the ice build-up on my umbrella and my multipack. The edges of my umbrella were iced over, as well as the top of the umbrella, however, as I barged through low-hanging branches, this ice would recycle. Even the straps that hung from my backpack were turning into frozen, dangling popsicle’s! Between the added weight of my wet tent from the night before, and all the ice hanging off of my gear, I am sure my total pack weight went up by a few pounds! Heck, one hiker even told me I had something under my nose, and then I realized it was frozen snot!
The hike down from Siler’s Bald to Winding Stair Gap was all pretty much the same. Cold, wet, muddy, and windy with falling rain and ice. I came across about 20 hikers headed north, and even a couple of tents still pitched at Panther Gap. Then, about an hour and a half later I crossed over a wooden bridge next to a beautiful waterfall that begged for me to take a photo, and regretfully, I did not. The weather was still bad, and at this spot, the mist from the falls only added to the water in the air. So I trudged on…
Shortly after, I was standing at the stairs leading up to US64 at Winding Stair Gap. Before crossing over the road though, I stayed under the trees and pulled out my phone. I did not get to call my wife the night before, and was still unsure if my buddy was going to be meeting me that night at Rock Gap Shelter. So, I turned my phone off of airplane mode and luckily picked up a piece of a signal! I then called my wife and left her a message to let her know that everything was going well and where I planned to be that night. As I was making the call to my wife, a text message came in that my buddy had sent earlier that sounded encouraging. I tried to call him, but after no answer I replied via text and told him I would for sure be at Rock Gap Shelter and that I hoped he would make it.
Now, I should add here that this was going to possibly be my second solo hike (attempt), and that my first one did not turn out too well. After my first solo attempt, I realized that I did not like sleeping in the woods by myself, and that once faced with this I also found myself quite a bit homesick, missing my wife and kids and longing to be back with them. However, I have also found that as long as I have a buddy along with me on a hike, I am ok. I still find myself missing my family, and it seems to worsen at night for some reason, but at least I have a friend to share my experience with. When I planned this hike, I did so with the understanding that there was a good chance my buddy may not be able to meet me on that second night, which would mean that nights 2 & 3 would definitely be on my own. However, I crossed my fingers, hoping that he would be able to make it, and if not, then I could give solo camping a try again…
After successfully sending the text to my buddy, I powered my phone back down and out it safely away. Then I crossed over US64… and then wasn’t sure which way to go!
I looked left and didn’t see anything that looked promising. I looked right and finally made out what looked like a parking area (remember, it was a bit foggy…) So, I started walking towards what I thought was the parking area, and it turned out to be just that. As I was walking into the parking area, a semi also pulled in, letting the cars behind him go around. I walked along side the truck (and the driver made sure to keep his head down as if studying something until I passed). As the truck pulled away, I saw the trail!
Before hiking up the trail, I noticed an old iron pipe sticking out of the side of the mountain which had water coming out of it. It is actually a great spot for a refill, and had it not been raining quite so hard, I would have happily went back over and refilled. However, I was still able to draw water from my bladder when drinking from the tube, and I knew that despite the next section was a little bit of a climb, it was a short climb and then it was downhill to Rock Gap Shelter! So, I climbed out of Winding Stair Gap.
Shortly after I realized that I was out of water… or at least I thought I was.
The last 3.8 miles was relatively easy, although the weather was still the same. As well, I only met 2 other hikers along this stretch, one on the trail and another at the shelter. The hiker on the trail told me that he was heading to Franklin for the night to get out of the weather and get a good meal and a warm, dry bed for the night. Shortly after meeting him, I came out at Wallace Gap, the last road crossing for the day, Old US64 at the entrance to Standing Indian Campgrounds. It was only 0.7 more miles to the shelter.
Once I got to the shelter, I found another hiker standing at the shelter. He was still wearing his pack and appeared to just be checking the shelter out. I asked him if he was staying there for the night, and he confirmed that he was just checking it out. He said that there was a group of people still up on the trail, but they were all heading to Franklin for the night. I asked him if there were others behind them and he told me that as far as he knew, everyone was going to Franklin. To be honest, this made me nervous…
After he left, I shrugged off my pack and began unpacking. It was just after 3 pm, and I knew that I had a long time to sit around before it was dark, and even longer before I would fall asleep. I hung my umbrella and my pack cover from nails in the shelter, and began setting up my spot inside the shelter. I decided that I wasn’t going to pitch my tent in the rain again, not to mention all of the huge branches that have been falling out of trees due to the weight of all the ice attached to them. I wasn’t interested in waking up to one of those laying on top of me in the middle of the night. So, I picked a spot in the tiny little shelter and made my nest…
After I got everything sorted out, I grabbed my food bag and took it to the side of the shelter and sat at the picnic table. At this point, all I had eaten that day was the 2 packages of blueberry muffins and coffee I had for breakfast, and a Fuel ProBar that I had quickly dug out of my pack on the trail just below Panther Gap. So, I ripped it open and grabbed a bag of dried apples with cinnamon sprinkled over them. They were good…
After eating them, I walked around the shelter. I checked out the bear cables, the privy (which was very nasty) and found the water source. After walking around a bit I decided to shoot some more video. I did not get to shoot much video at all while on the trail, or even take pictures, so I wanted to be sure I got some done here. As well, talking to the camera made me feel like I wasn’t so alone…
After finishing the video, I walked around a little more, and then decided to try my phone again. I walked back up to the AT and then north a little ways and finally got a piece of signal again. I checked my phone for messages from either my wife or my buddy, but didn’t see one from either. So, I called my wife again and this time she answered. I spoke with here for a few minutes and then told her I had better let her go and try to get in touch with my buddy while I still had signal. After hanging up with her, I tried calling him, but again got no answer, so I text that I was there and would be there and hoped he could make it. I then walked back to the shelter for a bit.
About 20 minutes later, I went back to the spot with reception and tried to get in touch with my buddy again. By this time, the loneliness had started to creep in and I suddenly decided that I didn’t want to spend the night out by myself. The words of the last hiker I met resounded through my head… “As far as I know, everyone is going into Franklin.” and to be honest, I got a little afraid. Then, as usual, I started thinking about my wife and kids…
I finally got a text from my buddy saying that he was not going to make it. This decided it for me. I went back to the shelter, repacked my gear and headed back down the trail, this time in the northward direction.
I was trying to decide if I wanted to follow the lead of the other hikers and try to hitch a ride into Franklin from Winding Stair Gap, or just trudge the entire way back to where my car was parked, at Wayah Gap. Either way, it was just after 4 pm, the weather was still wet and windy,ice and rain still fell from the skies, the trail seemed to be even messier than before, and the temperature was now at 33 F. I had to decide something, and do it soon. And to be honest, toughing it out and staying at the shelter (very likely by myself) was no longer an option.
I decided to let me feet make the decision. I told myself that if I could make it to Winding Stair Gap by 5 then I would push on, all the way back to Wayah Gap, however, if it was later than that, I would try to hitch a ride to Franklin. At this point, I was not terribly tired or sore so I knew I could still crank out the miles. As I said, I took it easy hiking in, however, my body was a bit lacking in both water and food. In retrospect, I should have refilled my water before leaving the shelter, and I should have eaten more, but at that point, my mind was filled with thoughts of hiking another 10 miles back to my car, in crappy weather and possibly in the night. As well, as easy as the hike to the shelter was, it was that much harder hiking back in that direction… I had my work cut out for me.
I flew. That morning, I took care to place my footsteps in areas so that my feet stayed dry, but now I stormed right through the middle of it all. The puddles splashed up and the mud caked up the sides of my pants. I still used the umbrella though to keep the top portion of my body dry, although, considering that I needed to make trail now, I found myself wishing that I could use both of my poles. This would have allowed me to travel faster, safer and with less impact on my body. As much as I enjoyed having my umbrella, I missed not having both hands for my poles.
As I said, I decided that I would let my feet decided my end goal for the night, and they decided to go all the way. I strolled back into Winding Stair Gap right at 5 pm, which meant I covered those 3.8 miles in just under an hour. However, this was also the easiest part of the hike back. The next 4 miles were pretty much all uphill and my body was now starting to get tired. I decided that I would now fill up my water bottle since I thought I was still out, however, when I pulled the water bottle out, I found that it was still a third full! For some reason though, I could not draw any water through the tube. My first thought was that the tube was kinked, it wasn’t. Then I started wondering about my filter… did it freeze? So, I refilled my water bladder, hooked everything back up and took a drew hard from the tube… it worked.
So, I slung my pack back on and crossed back over US64 for the real test of the day…
At this point, I had only hiked 14 miles, still had 6 to go (4 of which would be the hardest of the day in both, actual elevation, as well as considering my body’s tiring condition), the day was starting to darken a little and it was still cold and wet. I have hiked other 20+ mile days before, and was fine afterwards, but this one was different…
I did ok for the first mile up, but then my body said hang on. It needed fuel, so I stopped and pulled off my pack and dug through to find some more food. I pulled out a pack of Honey Stinger Fruit Chews and a pack of Ritz crackers. I ate the Fruit Chews and stuffed the crackers inside my multipack. I simply did not want to stand around eating but rather to be hiking. I did not particularly want to be hiking in these conditions and at night.
The fruit chews helped a little. But I soon needed more, so I stopped near Panther Gap again and began to eat the crackers. Being dry, I needed to wash them down with water, however, I quickly came to the same point as I was at before when I thought I was out. I drew on the hose but got very little out. I felt the bladder and found that it was again about a third of the way full… So, I put the crackers away and continued on.
I only had 1.7 more miles to get to blue-blazed trail that led off towards Siler’s Bald Shelter, and then only about another 0.5 miles to go to the top of the bald. Once I made it here, I knew that the hard part of my hike would be done, and that the last 1.8 miles would all be pretty easy downhill hiking. However, I found myself struggling quite a bit over these next 2.2 miles. My legs began cramping, especially when I stepped up. If I stopped I had to be careful with my legs otherwise they would cramp up. I was pushing myself hard and my body was pushing back…
By the time I came to the blue-blazed trail leading towards the shelter, my spirits lifted. I knew I was closer to the top, and I decided to finish my crackers. I even managed to get a little more water to flow through the tube connected to my bladder, but not much. That was ok though, I only needed enough to get me to the top.
As I was making my way back I was surprised at the trail. The trail of course looks different when headed in the opposite direction, however, the trail also looked different due to all the blow downs that I came across which were not there when I came through earlier that day. I had to climb up, over, and around 4 or 5 large blow downs on the way back, and the small trees that were hanging low earlier in the day now seemed to be hanging even lower. The trail in places looked like a huge ice chest had been dumped due to all the ice that had fallen (and still were) from the trees.
I finally made it to the top of the bald! It was my moment of victory, however, I dared not to stand around and celebrate for long, but just long enough to catch my breath and to massage my legs for a moment. I again drew hard from my drinking tube, but with little results. That was ok though, my hike was almost done!
As I hiked down the last stretch, I realized that I was going to make it back before the moon would push the sun from the sky, and this gave me some relief. My legs ached and my feet hurt with each step, but I kept going.
At this point, I also decided to shoot one more bit of video, however, it was cut short due to another blow down that I had to have both hands free to maneuver around…
I made it back to my car by 7:10 pm that night. It took me almost 6 hours to hike the trail southbound, in which the elevation was more of a loss than a gain, but it only took me 3 hours to hike it north. And my body knew it… I knew it…
When I got to the car, I took off my hiking clothes and put my clean clothes back on. Then I put everything away in the car, pulled out my GPS and set my new destination, home.
This hike was tough for me. I wanted to complete this section pretty bad, and despite me bailing, I really enjoy hiking, and love the backpacking part of it. However, this is the second trip I have now bailed on for the simple fact that I don’t want to be alone in the woods for more than one reason. With this in mind, I won’t be scheduling any more solo hikes, or even possible solo hikes in the future. This very well may limit my ability to get out and hike, but considering that this is only the second hike in over 3 years of hiking that this has happened, I don’t feel like it will limit my hikes that drastically. As well, thanks to my blog, along with my other social networking sites, I have made a few friends that I can hike with, while others have also extended their invitations.
So, this is my hike, and this is how I have to do it… This hike was actually a very fulfilling hike, just not in the ways that I had hoped for when I set out last Wednesday morning. I still got out there, I pushed myself, I saw new trail, and with a different backdrop. I used new gear, I met a number of people (27 I think) have ultimately broadened my hiking experience. Of course I did not complete the section as I had intended, but the trail will (hopefully) be there for a long time to come, and I have all intentions to getting back out…
Thanks for stopping by everyone!
P.S: I apologize for any grammatical errors that may be in this write-up. I have spell checked it, but to be honest, I have not proofread it all due to the length. (At almost 7,000 words, this is my longest entry so far.) I will go through it more, but am comfortable enough with it at this point to share it. If I catch things at a later time, I will be sure to correct it. If you have any questions though, feel free to ask. Thanks again!
Disclaimer: The title of this post is a line from the song Hopeless Wanderer by Mumford & Sons. No affiliation (obviously), just wanted to throw that out there though…
**I do not recommend using a stove system inside a car for more reasons than one, however, it is what I did. I accept no responsibility should you decide to do the same and end up with any sort of injuries, to yourself, or your vehicle.