It’s warm tonight. My hope is that I’ll be able to get up and eat a hot breakfast before leaving camp in the morning. It’s been too cold to do that lately, and there are two options for dealing with that.
The first is to sleep in till 10am or so, when the sun is high and it’s often ten to twenty degrees warmer. Option two is my preferred way of dealing with cold mornings. In this method you wake at dawn, pack as quickly as possible, shove a cliff bar in your mouth and start hiking as fast as you can.
If you’re lucky, it’s above freezing and you don’t even have to stop for water, because you have two or three liters filtered and ready to go. For nights where it does freeze, or I suspect it will, I’ll filter one liter to drink overnight, and gather the rest in the morning. For me cold mornings mean numb hands, and the only way to un-numb them is to make miles. Fast. As long as you eat first!
Google “Navy Seal Dynamic Warmup Drill” and read thoroughly. The static drill is worth knowing too.
I went over Blood Mountain the morning after my last post. I had a quiet lunch at the overlook with two day hikers who were very interested in what I was doing. As I headed down the back side of the mountain, I could see rain clouds rolling in. I made an extremely fast resupply stop at Neel’s Gap, after I realized I was a half day short on food. I raided their hiker box before entering the store (I’m not a rookie anymore) and scored nearly a full bag of Triscuts. Olive oil packets, Crystal Light packets, and a lone peppermint patty also dropped into my food bag. Always check the hiker box!
After leaving the gap I decided to gamble and head to Whitley Gap Shelter. Most AT shelters are within .2 miles of trail, but Whitley is 1.2 miles off trail. The storm was coming, and most of my fellow thru hikers do not have their legs yet. The bet paid off, I was the fourth hiker to roll in, thus securing both a dry place to sleep, and forgoing packing a wet tent in 30 degree wet misty morning. Come the storm did. Hikers at Neel’s Gap reported hail, and I bet we had some too.
The next morning I went to Low Gap Shelter, which I’d wager a large sum was full to the brim during hail night. A section hiker was kind enough to supply my toilet paper (okay, maybe I am still a rookie) and thus had my thanks. That night and Blue Mountain Shelter, I gave him my shelter spot, and I tented in the rain. It was a cold morning, but I made some coffee anyway. It tasted lovely!
At Blue Mountain I met Clammy, a hiker who is finishing his Triple Crown. He just got off of the CDT last year. Brian, a fellow AOC member was there, and from what I understand, we now have four Atlanta Outdoor Club members thru-hiking the AT this year.
This morning I hiked out of Deep Gap Shelter, and into Top of Georgia Hostel. I spoke with the owner, Bob, who recognized me, as I’ve rolled through there a few times now. We talked about life, divorce, and how things always happen for a reason. I picked up my resupply box, and ate a pizza, while speaking with a young Chinese college student. Apparently he was on a group section hike, and couldn’t keep up. I encouraged him to try it again someday.
I met a hiker named Slip and Slide, while trying to gauge the distance to the next shelter. She was using the Gut Hook App, but I prefer the AWOL Guide, and I prefer a paper copy over the .pdf. We figured it out, and she asked me to camp at Bly Gap so she wouldn’t be there alone. I crossed the GA/NC border at 5pm, on day six. That’s 86.4 miles with the Approach trail included.
I met Slip and Slide and Bly Gap, and there were already nine tents pitched. The climb out of Bly Gap sucked every bit as much as it did last time. I decided to press on to Muskrat Creek Shelter, about two miles out.
I could hear the people and the guitar a long ways off, and ducked off trail to check it out. I was greeted by a good looking girl in large glasses with a hammock setup. She told me there might be space behind the shelter. We chatted for a few, and I decided to press on to White Oak Stamp, about another .8 down trail.
Bly Gap was too exposed and windy, Muskrat was too loud and crowded, but White Oak Stamp is sheltered, cozy, and quiet. I have one neighbor, and I only know, because their headlamp pops up now and again in the distance. It’s nice to camp alone. I just stepped out to pee, and the stars are magnificent here. I boiled up some mac and cheese for dinner, and in the absence of tea, made a propel packet with hot water. I think the salt intake before bed is wise.
My body feels great. Except for one night, where my legs ended up down hill, and they locked up. Water and vitamin I. My back aches and my ankles are a little crunchy. I ran down a couple miles of mountain side yesterday, which I live for, but my knees asked me to wait a little while before I do that again.
I’m snuggled up tight under a small grove of rhododendron, and I saw my first patch of “you can do it!” flowers this afternoon. Oh, and here are my gaiters in all their glory. When they sparkle in the sun, it makes me and passers by very happy! Take care friends!