Day 71 – Rule #1. Don’t Quit On A Bad Day

I learned this rule early on in Franklin, NC from Tom “Late Start.” This rule goes along with a number of other rules.

Number two: don’t quit on a rainy day. (Or a sunny day)

Number three: don’t quit until you had a hot meal in town.

Number four: don’t quit until you’ve had a shower.

Number five: don’t quit until you’ve had a good night’s rest in a bed.

Number six: don’t quit.

There’s someone who goes by the trail name “Maggs” who says, and has been relentlessly tagging anywhere and everywhere: “Quit or keep going, they both hurt.”

Today was Sip’s last day with us. For realsies this time. I’m going to stop saying, “I’m confident (fill in the blank) is going to catch up,” because my track record with that has been horrendous. It was a miserable couple days of rain that negatively affected all of us, so I totally understand. But we’re sad to see him go. On a happier note, we’re all looking forward to Christmas at “The Truitts” home this year (to which Sip has already agreed).

We started hiking a little after 8AM and got his message at a road a few miles in. We wished him our best and had to swallow our sorrows and hike on. Today we had 22 miles into The Priest Shelter scheduled.

Oh yeah, and my sleeping pad has an air leak, so that’s a fun thing I’ll need to replace if I want to get any sleep. The hike started with a long and steep incline up to a ridgeline. We rode that ridge for the rest of the day. It took us over balds, through grassy knolls and fields, and through the forest (obviously). I was feeling good much of the day. There were many portions of the trail, however, that were also streams or bogs.

Literally, a stream had diverted and was coming right down the trail in a few spots. In others it had pooled, and leaves and sticks on either side were a marsh waiting to swallow your foot whole. I was happy we were able to dry our shoes and socks out yesterday in the sun. That was short-lived because today they were wet again.

Side note, Rabbit seems to be aging backwards on the trail like Benjamin Button. He shaved off his beard. His hair has also been cut (by me). By Maine, I expect him to be clean-shaven and have no hair on his head, and he will be a small baby that I will have to carry up to Katahdin. I, on the other hand, will be 90 years old, have long unkempt locks, and an equally long and dirty sailor’s beard that hangs down to my belly button.

On a similarly ridiculous note, but actually more serious this time, I often daydream about hiking this trail again in 53 years. For the Oxford scholars amongst us, that would make me 90 years old. The current record for the oldest person to complete a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail is 83 years old. I imagine myself continuing on after Blood Mountain in Georgia, heckling all the younger hikers, throwing their shoes up into the tree at Mountain Crossings. I have even a trail name earmarked for that thru-hike 53 years from now; it will be “Father Time.”

We eventually made it to The Priest Shelter a little after 6PM, exhausted. There’s a logbook of “confessions” here, however, I’m too tired to look at it. I’ll spill some tea in the book tomorrow before I depart. We’re low on food and need a resupply tomorrow at a General Store. We are also hoping to hit Waynesboro by Monday and avoid more rain.

Until then, stow away in my pack for day 72 on the Appalachian Trail.

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