Day 11 – Firetowers Are Lit

Day 11 started like any other day. In a sleeping bag, tossing and turning, trying to get comfortable. We’re there bears outside? Would I hear them anyways with my ear plugs in? Probably best to be blissful unaware. It’s not a bad way of living life, blissfully unaware of the BS and minutiae that often consumes our valuable time. I debate if I’m awake enough to stay awake or I should try to eke out 15-30 more minutes. It was cold, the temperature was probably in low 40s.

My motivation to get ready was nonexistent. Everything seemed like chore. Breaking down the tent, eating, packing. But big milestones were on the horizon. A 12 mile day taking me passed the first firetower along the AT and passed the 100 mile marker.  Those milestones were exhilarating.  The 360 view from the top of the fire tower was like nothing I’ve ever seen. But I must have left all my dopamine and energy at the top of the mountain because the rest of the day was slog.

I hardly remember the next 6 miles. My knees hurt, I was sleepy. It seemed like a continuous down and then up and then down again. I kicked and stubbed my toes on countless rocks and roots on the way down adding to the misery. Perhaps that part was such a drag because I was anticipating a short 3.8 mile day for tomorrow and a hot shower and a bed to sleep in. I kept telling myself: (like a football coach, who’s just talking to appease the media) “If we just keeping showing up everyday, and putting in the work, and walking all the steps, we’ll get to where we’re going”. Full disclosure I was saying it as sarcastically as I could, I’m not winning any Emmy’s out here for inspirational speeches.

Random thoughts of the day, sometimes when a leaf gets stuck to my trekking pole, I feel like a janitor that uses a stick to pick up trash.

I arrived at camp at last. It’s a newer shelter here and am taking advantage of it (and my laziness) to not set up a tent. It’s also supposed to rain in the morning and not taking down a wet tent sounds very appealing. Sleeping in the shelter is a done deal for the night. Also I drew my best rendition of my a praying mantis hiking with trekking poles (I’ll keep my day job).

Let’s take an inventory (Green/Amber/Red) on things after my first 10 days:

Food: Amber- I’m low but a resupply is coming in the next few days.

Water: Green- springs and piped water are everywhere here.

Gear: Amber- could be lighter but it’s getting the job done. I got rid of some heavy items I haven’t used yet like wet wipes (Sorry Helena), and I switched out my multitool for a much lighter pair of scissors.

Health: Amber- The aches and pains are to be expected but nothing is crippling. Knee pain seems to play tag back and forth between the left and right.  Blisters are healing and presently at bay. I’m feeling stronger and trail legs are coming along especially given the easier terrain.

We had another camp fire and solid bonding session. Still no trail names for most of us although we tossed around a few ideas, none stuck. We did however decide who each of Snow Whites 7 dwarfs we would be (priorities). Shocker, I’m Doc. Im looking forward to a few days in town, getting some hot meals, and needed rest.

Until then, stow away in my pack for Day 12 on the Appalachian Trail.

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Comments 2

  • Russ Hobgood : Apr 27th

    Hey Derek. Trekking is so much fun. The routine does get to ya. The Green, Amber, Red anology is familiar as I am retired military. It helps sort out the days requirements. Hopefully the weather will warm in the mountains and life will become “easier”. Hope the knee doesn’t wreck your plans. Take care, trek on, best of trail luck to you.

    • Derek Witteman : Apr 27th

      Hi Russ, thanks for reading and the well wishings. I’m having a blast


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