Cold Soaking Food
One thing I was absolutely not willing to do in the beginning was skimp on a cook stove. Out in the cold forest, after a long day of hiking, a hot meal was the perfect reward. But pack weight is critical and something had to go.
As some of you know, appetite is dead in the first days. The idea of eating made me ill, but I knew I needed to force-feed myself. Starting hot and choking down two spoons full every half hour ends with a cold dinner. Honestly, it wasn’t half bad. So my Jetboil system and fuel were my first giveaway items.
Other items I have since purged are my full tube of toothpaste, some toiletries I haven’t been using, and my large journal.
Moose Liver & Mustang Sally
Sassafras Mountain was the next day’s challenge. Coming down from the mountain, the trail was lined with bright signs announcing “Trail Magic Ahead.”
Trail Angels by the names Moose Liver and Mustang Sally were cooking hot dogs, other snacks, and a campfire! I sat and visited with them over two hours and had such a great time! Setting back on trail I was reset for the next half of the “long” hike to Gooch.
Taking a halfway break has proven key to keeping up a long one. It took all day, even with an earlier start.
At camp that night around an attempted wet wood campfire, I felt new attachments being formed with the diverse group of personalities around me.
As I laid down in my tent that night I felt At Home on the trail for the first time.
One of my fears is leaving the shelter and turning the wrong way back on trail. I did this leaving Gooch Mountain shelter. Luckily I realized it quickly since I was nearing the river I had crossed the day before! Now I know to really watch out for that mistake. Only half an hour was lost.
I trusted that where I needed to be was exactly where I was.
I made it to Woody Gap where I was retrieved by “Chief” of Above the Clouds hostel for a much needed break. It was the most glorious relaxing day. I drank sodas, played my flute, warmed myself in the sunshine, and had great conversations with experienced AT alumni. I like how they all refer to themselves as “class of” given year. So I am class of 2023, like school 😊
That finally catches me up to the present moment. My longest hike to this point is ahead of me. Between Woody and Neel Gap are 11 miles! It’s not optional to camp along the way without a bear canister. So I MUST push forward. Going to start plenty early and take breaks.
Blood Mountain here I come!
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