The Newt

April 25, 2018

Destination: Cornelius Creek Shelter Today's Miles: 18.40

Start Location: Bobblets Gap Shelter Trip Miles: 766.10

Eastern Newt
I knew it was supposed to rain today, and in particular in the morning. With my ear plugs in I slept soundly in the shelter.

When I woke up and pulled them out, the first thing I heard was rain. Rain hitting the tin roof on the shelter. I could also hear the stream just behind the shelter gurgling away - a lovely sound. But the rain.... Even though I knew it would be raining, there was still a piece of me that hoped it would not be so. I didn’t wake up until 8. The others in the shelter were stirring, with a guy named Shark Bait heading out first. I boiled some water for coffee and ate my breakfast: two oatmeal packets and brown sugar cinnamon pop tarts with peanut butter on them. I love this breakfast and can’t seem to get tired of it. I worked on getting my sleeping bag put away in its dry sack, as well as my sleeping pad, and other various knickknacks. I’m still getting used to my organization system with the new zpacks pack, but so far I love it! It feels like I get smarter with it every day, making small changes. I had a little water come into it yesterday and realized it was because I only folded the roll top over 3 times, namely because my giant food bag was in it. I have a lot of experience with roll top dry bags due to my love for kayaking, and usually i have to roll the top over 5-7 times to keep the water out. Tarzan suggested putting my food bag on top on the outside - a great idea - so I would do this today and give it a whirl. Anyway, so far I’m really happy with the bag, and I love that it doesn’t make noise while I hike like the osprey did. I can focus on the sounds of nature.

I saved the best for last - putting on my wet socks, shoes, and shirt from yesterday. That’s probably the hardest part of the morning. Happy Feet has already headed out, so it was just Tarzan and I left having a race to see who could be last out of the shelter. I went to the privy. It was huge! It almost looked ADA compliant with its wide chamber and hand rails. I have not seen one like it yet. Tarzan was still organizing his gear so it looked like he would win the race. I headed up the 0.2 mile hill back to the trail. 

The rain was steady, but quickly eased up and became a light sprinkle. My plan was just to hike to Cornelius Shelter about 18 miles away. As I was plodding along I saw a little orange critter in the middle of the trail and bent down to have a closer look. It looked like a salamander. It was bright orange and didn’t run away! When it did move, it moved slowly. I texted the picture to my parents and my Dad wrote back that it was an Eastern Newt. Apparently they secrete toxins to protect themselves from being eaten by other things like crayfish. I was not sure if touching them would hurt a person, but I wasn’t going to find out! I wondered if this was why witches’ potions on TV always seemed to have “eye of newt” in them....

I kept hiking and crossed over the Blue  Ridge Parkway and beelined towards a trashcan on the other side. After dumping my trash in it and delighting in lightening my load yet again, I trekked a bit more and came upon Cove Mountain Shelter. Nightmare, Diablo, Finger Food, and Happy Feet were all there. We chatted briefly and then headed out. I took the lead and Happy Feet hung behind me and we talked for a while. It was really nice chatting with her. We talked about our families. She said she has an older sister who will turn 21 soon. I really like hearing about the journeys and backgrounds of the younger hikers. At 19 I wasn’t even thinking about the AT, let alone doing a thru hike! After a bit she slowed down and I kept going at my pace. I saw an interesting bird that had bright yellow wings on a jet black body. It moved too fast to photograph, so when I next have a signal I will have to see if the Google can figure out what it was. I also saw a few little yellowish olive colored birds. They don’t look bright enough or have the same color patterns as goldfinches. I need to figure out what those are too.

The day was full of swollen creek crossings. Two of them were tough and I narrowly missed falling into the first one. I didn’t miss falling into the second, unfortunately. I slipped on the rock I was trying to balance and leap from and plunged my right foot in. So much for drying out! I think it will be end of day Saturday now before I get my socks and shoes dry.

The rain disappeared by afternoon. By late afternoon, I could even see a bit of blue sky! The final climb to the shelter was a long one and felt tough - definitely a sign that I had put in a good day’s worth of walking! I got there at about 5 and saw Zia Fox, as well as two hikers I hadn’t met yet: Fancy Free, a lady from Vermont, and Whitewater, a girl from Canada (Calgary area). Later on Nightmare, Diablo, and Finger Food showed up. Happy Feet and Tarzan did not, but it’s hard to say if they pushed on farther or stopped short. 

I ate my ramen bomb for dinner! I cooked the ramen with some TVP, and then added in garlic mashed potatoes. I actually really liked it, though I dislike cooking food in my pot because then I have to clean it out. Usually with the Knorr rice sides I use my cook pouch to cook them in their bags, and then I just eat them out of the bags. No clean up! For dessert I ate the rest of my peanut butter M&Ms, the rest of my dark chocolate bar, and then I had a tortilla with peanut butter. Of course, I had my usual cup of tea. 

Today was a good day and much drier! The hiking was status who Virginia - nothing momentous, but there were lots of pretty creeks and the wildlife I saw. Nightmare and crew saw a bear about a mile south of camp! I wish I had seen it.... I was grateful for a break in the rain today and to be able to watch the forest critters come out, perhaps also looking for spring. Tomorrow I will either get close to the road crossing to hitch or get a shuttle to Glasgow, or if I’m feeling good I’ll push the 20 miles or so to get there. We shall see! It should be a nice day tomorrow!


#1: Beaker, I plan to try the Gatorade bars. I saw them at Kroger but didn’t get one yet, namely because they are so huge! I’m sure I’ll give them a whirl. As for that McDonalds item, couldn’t they have just called it the McCuddle? I don’t know that I can actually order that sandwich just because I don’t want to say it! What if they don’t know what I’m talking about? Anyway, I never eat mickey D’s normally and so far I haven’t on the trail. Their food doesn’t really appeal to me as much as something like Taco Bell. We’ll see - I’ve learned never to say never! Also, I had no idea there was a secret McDonald’s menu. My wife had to google that for me.

#2: Gordon, I don’t mind having a shower curtain plastered to me as long as it’s mine! Motel shower curtains though - GROSS!!! :-)

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