Day 2: Roasting Socks and Night Screaming

Getting Up

The night was rough. I barely slept and had to pee nearly every hour. I remember thinking, where the hell is all this water coming from? I definitely didn’t drink that much water. The rain was blowing into the shelter and I feared that my down quilt was going to lose its loft. I guess Enlightened Equipment is made of stronger stuff since I had no problem. There were others who couldn’t say the same. It was also sometime in the night that we shelter people realized that someone forgot to share that they night scream. I wake up to hearing, “COWARDS! COWARDS ALL OF YOU!” There was more mumbling, but I was focusing on not having a heart attack.

The moment the sky lightened, everyone started groaning and getting up. When staying in the shelter, you wake up and get going as soon as someone decides to pack. It was 6:30 a.m. I had no issues with the wakeup call. I fixed breakfast and decided to just suck on an electrolyte tablet instead of dissolving it. If you’re wondering how that feels and tastes, it’s like a sour sweetart that fights back.

Springer Mountain

On the top of Springer Mountain – the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. Photograph credit: Aaron

The hike up to Springer Mountain was cloudy and rainy. I was bundled up in my rain gear and wearing my waterproof socks – which were holding up pretty well. Everyone was carefully avoiding puddles and the stream that was the trail. Me, I was happily stomping through the water. By the time I summitted, I was stripping. Rain gear is great when it’s below 45 degrees, but any temperature higher than that means that the rain gear is unnecessary. It’s either rainwater or sweat.

Hiking Buddies and Food

I caught up to some of the others that were staying at Black Gap and we ended up hiking together. We all had plans to stay at Hawk Mountain and worried about how full the site would be. With the rain and distance, we guessed that nearly everyone from Black Gap, Springer Mountain, and Stover Creek shelters would be aiming for Hawk Mountain Shelter. None of us wanted to backtrack nearly a mile to go to the designated campsite for Hawk Mountain if the shelter was full.

By the time we got to Three Forks, it was just Aaron, Nick, and I. We decided that Long Creek Falls would be a good stop for lunch and a water refill. We shared food and, I got to say, having a bite of a blueberry poptart was a straight shot of dopamine.

The Mental Struggle

It went uphill from there and I was once again alone. For the next few miles, the time alone to think, the discomfort of my pack, and the rainy weather were starting to get to me. The bear canister was digging into my back and wasn’t sitting right in my pack. I also had the realization that my resupply plan needs to change – drastically. I was coughing and constantly blowing my nose. I was hiking slower than I thought. It was just negative thought after negative thought. I’m ashamed to say that I was thinking that maybe this isn’t for me. That scared me most of all.

Hawk Mountain Shelter

Less than a mile away from the Hawk Mountain Shelter, two of the folks who stayed at Black Gap caught up with me and we hiked the rest of the way. They were also debating whether going to the designated campsite was the better choice. When we got to the sign pointing us downhill for the campsite, we stopped and stared, and collectively thought nope and continued on. We were glad we did when we arrived and there was room in the shelter. It never got full either.

Hawk Mountain Shelter

Aaron and Nick were there, and after dinner was cooked, Nick brought out the cards and about six people played around two bear canisters. I quickly found out that I had signal and saw a message from a person who I haven’t seen since I was in middle school. He went to school with my mother and he reached out asking if he could use my story for his Sunday sermon. I said that I was honored and it made all the hard times that I’ve experienced so far worth it. It’s amazing how a positive comment can really make your day.

Fire and Socks

As the day was winding to a close and the rain was finally stopping, a man came into camp and asked, “Who wants a fire? I don’t have a stove and plan on cooking over the fire.” I kind you not, six men stood up, giddy as toddlers, and went to start collecting sticks and branches. The rest of us were like, “It’s been raining for two days straight.”

Five minutes later, a dozen guys were hovering around the campfire pulling out lighters, knives, and discussing fire techniques. Everyone cheered when the fire got going – that is, until it died out. Queue more stick grabbing and two people grabbing their portable air pump. It took 45 minutes. Once the fire actually got going, everyone came out to enjoy the warmth. I suggested heating up a rock to dry out some wet clothes and everyone started grabbing rocks and putting them on the fire. So many socks needed drying out.

The moment the fire finally got lit.

The weekend hiker never did cook his meal over the fire. He said that we looked cold and that we needed the fire more than him. A thru-hiker lent him their stove. When the fire died out, we all shuffled to our sleeping bags. We talked about the subfreezing temperatures expected for the night and the time change. Everyone was out by 8:30.

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Comments 4

  • Stoic : Mar 12th

    First week is always rough, you will think about quitting everyday, but it’s important to keep trucking as things will get easier and feel more comfortable after you get used to your new reality both physically and mentally.

  • Thomas : Mar 12th

    Following your progress, really fun and interesting to read about your experiences.

    Stay safe and I’ll be looking forward to more stories !


  • Wiggily : Mar 12th

    I like Stoics comment. The first month is going to be a break in period, mileage should be low if you are going to go the distance, and if you need it you can afford a week of zeros at this point.

    It feels to me like you will go the distance,if you want to. I’m inspired.

  • Bob Schramm : Mar 14th

    It sounds like she keeps running into good people. Her equipment is top of the line and it sounds like she really enjoys her experiences.


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