April 14, 2004
Miles To Go
April 14, 2004
Miles To Go
Today started around midnight with a spitting, cold, wet feeling. High wind was forcing drifting snow through leaky boards and onto my sleeping bag. The temperature had dropped from 45* to 20* overnight and the snow got my down sleeping bag just wet enough to be cool. Not cold, not shivering, just cool enough to be uncomfortable. I woke up many times after midnight, hoping for a glimpse of first light which would signal an end to the long night. When dawn came at last, I found my pack, clothes and boots covered in snow. My boots were frozen solid again, letting me play one of my least favorite games: Squish vs. frozen boots. Until you really get hiking and start generating some body heat, the boots always win!
Did I mention Overmountain Shelter has a roofless privy?
Ahhhh, hiking in the springtime.
Green One and I followed the tracks of turkeys—actual turkeys, since Rockhound, Burning Boots and J-Bird were still behind us. The AT gained elevation up Little Hump and Hump mountains. At the summit of the balds, the wind was roaring over 50 mph, driving us sideways as we staggered through the horizontal snow. I played hide-and-go-seek with sensation in my hands, never losing feeling for more than a mile or a half-hour at a time. My brother, warm weather creature that he is, cursed the storm with all his might. Trudging through water, ice, 8” snow and wind-scoured grass, we crossed the summits and escaped the wind during the five-mile descent.
We made it to Rt.19E and started phase 2 of the day—walking or hitching to Elk Park to pick up our mail drop. Soaked and cold, Green One stuck out a doubtful thumb as we began the 2.5 mile uphill walk.
Sometimes the sheer contrast between bad scenarios and good ones can blow your mind. The first passing pickup truck stopped for us, landing us in town 3 minutes later! The post office was closed for lunch, so we grabbed some snacks and hot coffee for me! Then we waited for it to open, slouching in the heated lobby with another thru-hiker named Ichabod. When the PO opened, we got our mail drop along with care packs from Mom & Dad and Heather (thank you!) And then the PO phone rang. It was Rockhound calling for us!!! Instead of my bro and I having to find a way back to the trail to resume hiking & camping in the snow, Rockhound and Burning Boots arranged for a local hostel manager to pick us up at the PO! We could get warm, dry and clean, eat well, then get back on the trail in the morning! Incredible!!!
So I’m in a warm bunk tonight, following a burger & pizza, looking forward to a hot breakfast and a 23-mile slack pack (leaving most of my camping gear at the hostel) tomorrow. After tomorrow’s hike, we’ll return to the hostel to stay again before resuming our journey north.
From hell to heaven in minutes! Hope is a wonderful thing…