Day 110 – Trash Pandas in the Night

Cold and dark room, weighted blanket, and ear plugs are the key to a solid night’s sleep (for me). Also, all of the other “sleep hygiene” things I’m required to say as a physician, like avoid tv/phone screens, large meals, and stimulating activities within a few hours of bedtime, and caffeine after 12:00 p.m. We joked around in the morning how ridiculous it would be to pack out a weighted blanket for camping/backpacking. It’s not exactly ultralight.

We slept in until our heart content. The heart wanted to sleep until roughly 8:00 a.m. I ate leftover pizza and wings for breakfast. Our ride took us as far as the bridge that was still out due to rains in Fort Montgomery. However, they did allow us to cross on foot. By the time we got back to the trailhead it was a little after 10:00 a.m.

Crossing the Bear Mountain Bridge on foot over the Hudson River was fun. Chiquita and I tricked Rabbit into believing it was the Brooklyn Bridge (although they do look kind of similar). Once across, we had a steep set of ups and downs on the trail. Climbing was difficult; however, our climbing legs are slowly making a comeback in NY with the present terrain.

The big treat for the day was making it to the Appalachian Trail Market. It’s a medium-sized gas station with a full-service deli. We’ve been fortunate in NY to be able to “deli blaze” so often. I had a breakfast sandwich for lunch (I’m allowed). I also ran into Eeyore at the market.

With my eighth day having Hector the 8 Ball, it was time for me to find him a new torchbearer. Rabbit, Chiquita, and Sledge were not interested at all. I spoke with Eeyore and gave him Hector’s backstory and aspirations to get to Maine. Eeyore graciously agreed to carry Hector northward for the next eight days. We also asked Hector if he approved of the transfer of power and he said “Yes, definitely.” The transfer of power occurred without incident or insurrection.

I finished the third book in the Red Rising series today and jumped into the fourth book, Iron Gold. I remain captivated by the storyline and the new twists and turns catch me by surprise almost every time. I’m finding myself thinking it would make a great animated series one day. So long as they don’t butcher it the way they did “Enders Game.”

We left the market around 3:00 with an ambiguous target for camping. At 15 more miles we would come up on another beach and would catch Hatcher, who was now ahead. Given the daylight and miles left to cover, that was ambitious, but we were going to mess around and find out.

The rest of my afternoon was marred by mosquitoes and bowel movements. I had three emergency BM’s that afternoon. When I got to camp, I took some Loperamide to slow down my transit time. I’m thinking my leftovers that morning were the culprit.

I was swarmed by gnats and mosquitoes as well all afternoon. Without having the safety of a bug net to retreat to, I had to fight off the gnats attempting to enter my airspace. A few of them tried to enter my body like we were in an episode of The Magic School Bus. Mouth, nose and eyeballs were all targeted routes of entry. I’m hoping to get a new bug net in the next 48 hours.

I was welcomed into a campsite with a cooler full of trail magic sodas shortly after 6:00 p.m. Rabbit and I were not too hot on the prospect of hiking another five miles that evening. Our feet were already pretty sore and 15 miles on the day seemed like a reasonable stopping point, considering our late start and breaks during the day.

Chiquita showed up shortly after I did as well. We retreated to the safety of our tents and didn’t leave the rest of the night. At 10:30, while typing the day’s happenings into my notes, I heard a rustle outside my tent.

It was a rustle in the grass and almost a purring type of noise. I peered outside into the darkness and saw a small, black, poorly defined shape. It was a short three feet away, in between mine and Chiquita’s tent. I turned on my phone’s flashlight and saw a medium sized raccoon scurry away. Ten minutes later I heard it again, but it ran off when I shifted on my air pad to get another look. Here’s to hoping these trash pandas leave us alone the rest of the night.

Stow away in my pack for day 111 of the Appalachian Trail.

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Comments 4

  • thetentman : Aug 4th

    You seem to be a walking medicine cabinet. So that begs the question, Aspirin or Ibuprofen?

    • Derek Witteman : Aug 6th

      I’m an Ibuprofen and Tylenol guy, they work well together (synergistic drug effects and all). Aspirin has higher bleeding risks and with a fall and/or head injury you wouldn’t want your clotting capabilities compromised so I tend to avoid it. Now if you’re at high risk for a heart attack while hiking might be something to keep handy (just saying, not medical advice obviously)

  • Steve : Aug 5th

    I was also thinking you seem to have come well prepared for any medical situation that may arise.
    Thank you for writing a daily blog. I imagine it takes some effort.
    Thanks for letting me stow away in your pack. You always elicit a chuckle from me.

    • Derek Witteman : Aug 6th

      Hey Steve! Just the basics and most common of maladies. I enjoyed reading the daily ones best when preparing for this hike so I’m just paying it forward.


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