The Big Sleep

April 19, 2018

Destination: Stealth Campsite at Mile 657 Today's Miles: 13.80 Start Location: Rice Field Shelter Trip Miles: 657

Waterfall at my stealth campsite after Rice Field Shelter
I tried to sleep in a bit, and I guess I did when my bladder woke me at 7. The wind was howling outside and blowing rain into the side of my tent.

I put on my rain gear and decided I would also get my food bag down. When I finished with that business, I took off my wet gear, crawled back into my bag and went back to sleep. I meant to  just rest for another 30-60 minutes tops; instead, I woke at quarter to 10! The rain had stopped, but the wind was still gusting and I could feel the temperature dropping. I popped out of my tent and everyone was gone. I somehow slept through everyone packing up and leaving. Wallace probably thought I was in a tent coma. I hurried to get my stuff together and break down my tent (a fun challenge in gusty winds!), then spread out some gear in the empty shelter to get more situated in my new pack while I boiled water for coffee. The new gas canister was so much better! Thankfully that issue was solved. I texted my wife that I was feeling a little low. The wind is a real challenge - it burns our faces in the warm weather and takes a cold day and makes it really sting. My hands were numb and my gear was wet and I was having an “enough of this winter!!!” moment. I felt better after I ate, had coffee, and then saw Colonel, Underdog, and Trucker right as I was about to leave. 

I headed out and one of the benefits of my sleeping in was a beautiful view off the bald. Early this morning it was foggy, grey and rainy, but the front was blowing through and while the sky still carried the hue of winter, visibility was good. I could see valley after valley after valley! I hiked on quickly to try and get warm. 

I spent most of the day on this blustery ridge line. I stopped once to tape up a hot spot on the ball of my right foot. I got to it early so it wasn’t a problem and the Leuko tape plus moleskin stopped it from feeling funny and prevented any blistering. I got beaten down by the cold wind all day, which made me quite tired and hungry. I must’ve eaten 5 cliff bars while hiking today. I also saw two goldfish crackers on the trail. I walked past them, and then actually decided to inspect them for eating and went back! I know that sounds gross, but I was hungry and they sparked a craving. Unfortunately, they were soggy so I left them for the birds (or someone else!). I did see lots of nice valley views on the ridge. It sleeted briefly a few times, but nothing stuck and it passed quickly each time. I didn’t see a sound until I was coming down from the ridge and ran into Remmy, whom I had met in the Hikers Inn bunkhouse in Damascus. He confessed to having a similarly tiring day as I had, and told me that Bear Meat and Clooney were still back behind me. It sounded like Bear Meat still wasn’t feeling 100% so they were taking it easy. I am sure I’ll see them down the trail at some point and I really hope he feels better soon!

I read about a camping spot called The Captain’s Place on this part of the trail. It was just up ahead of where I saw Remmy. It was closed, but in the past hikers could take a zip line across a river and then tent on The Captain’s property. It sounded awesome, but as it was not an option, I decided to look for a stealth campsite near there. I really don’t like getting to camp after dark. It was 5:30, which is a great time to stop when it is cold and camp chores can seem to take a bit longer. Lucky for me I found a wonderful little site right by a creek with a beautiful, small waterfall! It was perfect and exactly what I needed after a tough night and day. I was so happy to just have a cup of tea, eat and look at and listen to the water. I was grateful to have support today when I was feeling a little off, and grateful to get out of the wind and have an easier time finding an awesome camp site today. I ate all of the rest of my M&Ms, so I’d also like to say that I’m grateful they make a huge “sharing size” (aka hiker size!) bag. Time to go to sleep yet again. I will rise earlier tomorrow! I think the weather is supposed to be nicer tomorrow, but that is for tomorrow to show me tomorrow!

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