April 30, 2018
Destination: Paul Wolfe Shelter Today's Miles: 15.80
Start Location: Maupin Field Shelter Trip Miles: 858
I got up early at Maupin, but namely so I could catch up on my journaling a bit. I’ve been getting behind.
I take some notes during the day, but usually I have to squeeze in the writing at night. I’ve been so tired lately from the miles and heat that I can barely stay awake at night to get a few sentences down. Sometimes I try the morning journaling, but I’m also usually antsy for breakfast and to get out and hike. Today I decided to eat breakfast, then journal while I had my coffee. I slept well last night. The weather was chilly but not freezing, and I was so tired from the events of the night before, not to mention hiking 20+ miles. I ran and grabbed my food bag off the bear pole. A bear pole is basically a giant coat hanger for food bags. It is somewhere in the 15-20 feet range and has hooked arms at the top. There is a long metal hook rod that looks a little like a shuffleboard stick, and you use that to hang your food bag on the hook. I like the bear pole! It saves me from having to use my bear line.
By the time I left camp at 9:30, everyone else was gone. I filtered some water at the pretty little stream behind the shelter and headed out. I immediately ran into a couple from somewhere overseas (I think Germany but I’m not sure). They were out for the day walking the Mau-Har trail, a loop trail that goes from just north of Maupin Shelter back to the AT south near the previous shelter. It’s supposed to be a really beautiful loop trail and I know some thrus who took it, but I’m a white blazer so I’ll have to come back for that one. They asked me a few directions and i helped them out using Guthook, and then I took off.
The day was easy hiking. Some ups and downs but no momentous climbs or anything. I didn’t see a single thru hiker during the day, and only passed a few day or section hikers. It was a good day just to enjoy the warm weather - sweating is much better than freezing!! There were some nice views, and I enjoyed watching the chipmunks, squirrels and towhees foraging around in thickets. I had lunch at an awesome overlook, and I also took a side trail to see Humpback Rocks - a rock formation that looks a little like a humpback whale. I did pass Radio today, who was heading southbound. As a refresher, Captain Krispy had a friend join him for part of his hike. He left the trail and then came back on his own to do a section, this time walking South. I almost didn’t recognize him because he had cut his hair and shaved his beard! We chatted for a bit about Krispy’s injury and he said that Krispy will just finish his hike next summer. Bummer! I was hoping maybe he would heal fast and somehow make it back, but I guess a stress fractured femur is serious and needs time to heal.
I trekked on and came to a cooler of trail magic near a parking area. Alas, the sodas inside were all empty! I spent some time singing songs again today. Perhaps related to my ridge line camping experience the other night, I sang a few rounds of “Bend and Break” by Keane. That then lead me into another of their songs, “Somewhere Only We Know.” It’s such a good song for me on the trail, wanting to get back in touch with simple things myself. The song’s refrain goes: “oh simple thing, where have you gone? I’m getting tired and I need something to rely on. So tell me when, you’re gonna let me in. I’m getting tired and I need somewhere to begin.” It’s so easy to get tired and sucked into the meaningless business of things that don’t really matter. The trail is a great reminder of things that truly matter, even if they are not on the trail! I think even truly lost people can feel it. It’s like coming home, or knowing you’re close to home. The first verse of that song is an interesting parallel, because he sings: “I walked across an empty land. I knew the pathway like the back of my hand. I felt the earth beneath my feet. Sat by a river it did make me complete.” He sings that even as he asks where that simple connection has gone. I think the message is that the simple things have always been there - we just can’t lose them. We can’t let them go, which means we have to remain open to the way they have always made us feel, even if that seems silly as we grow older. It’s not just appreciating the simple things; it’s holding on to the connection we feel with them and protecting that pathway. And by all those “we’s” I guess I mean “me,” since this is a diary of my thoughts and experiences and not a projection on other people.
Whitewater and a section hiker were at Paul Wolfe when I arrived. The shelter was awesome, with a huge covered sitting area with a picnic table, double decker platforms and even skylights on the side. The creek in front of the shelter was quite pretty and made for a lovely water source. Tarzan showed up and we all made food and chatted. We had a funny conversation about favorite M&Ms. Whitewater loves the caramel ones, so I’ll have to give those a whirl. I have never had them. When I said I liked peanut butter M&Ms, the section hiker claimed they weren’t M&Ms because there was no chocolate, and the debate was on! It was light hearted and funny.
I was only 5 miles away from Waynesboro. Originally, I thought I would just hike in the same day, but I have a lot of things to accomplish in town, so I figured it was better to arrive early in the morning. I am considering a zero in town, but not sure yet. I need to stay somewhere and shower, do laundry, resupply, get a new gas canister, bug spray and permethrin, retreat my clothes, and EAT! I have my food eyes on Ming’s all you can eat Chinese buffet and a diner called Weasies. I was grateful today for the good weather and relatively straightforward hiking, as well as having some camaraderie at camp. Lucky for me, I don’t have to wonder where the simple thing is. It’s all around me every day.
#1 - yesterday was my Dad’s birthday and I forgot to mention that I was able to get a signal and call him. That was nice and I talked with both parents for a bit, mid trail! Happy birthday Dad!!
#2 - I forgot to mention how funny the shelter logbook is at The Priest Shelter. Most hikers start their entry with “Forgive me father for I have sinned” and then confess something.i did not, but I wish I had confessed about my tent incident!