First Day Jitters
The excitement in the air was palatable. I felt like a kid on the first day of school. Since we are now known as the “Class of 2022” thru-hikers, definitely an appropriate analogy, complete with backpacks! You can tell some students had been here before and some were new. We all noticed the pink tags of fellow Katahdin-bound hikers.
The Approach Trail lived up to its reputation as a tough start uphill, but slackpacking made it a great eight-mile workout, not a chore. I almost felt guilty. Too long of a story to include, but the first lesson learned was one I already knew, but I guess the AT wanted to make sure I remembered: great to help others, but not at expense of yourself or the “oxygen mask rule.”
It started to rain as I got my pack on in the parking lot. I said a quick goodbye to my drop off friend (no time for tears) and headed to Stover Creek shelter at 2.8 miles. I practically skipped into camp I was so happy to be on this journey. Set up my Big Agnes Tiger Wall tent easy peasy, met fellow hikers over dinner, and slept soundly to a steady but light rain.
Day 2 Singing in the rain
I read all about how important it is to take it slow the first few days, don’t push the miles, ease into it (personally I like to imagine Matthew McConaughey voice over on that mantra;). Day one in the cold rain I planned on six miles to Hawk Mtn. Shelter, but even after leaving camp late, taking a mile side trail to see Long Falls, and the rain…I arrived at 12:30. Too early and feeling too good, of course I chose to go to Gooch at mile 15.7. The scenery was beautiful, my rain gear was rocking it, and my Colorado lungs were drunk on oxygen. No regrets, but the last two miles were admittingly a challenge. Busy at the shelter, but I got a tent spot next to awesome ladies Prarie and GoGo. The vibe was positive all around from new and some already familiar faces. In bed or more appropriately, in bag, by seven p.m. Sweet AT dreams all the sweeter now I am actually here!
Day 3 Goal for the Soul
Second to last to leave camp and loved it. I was already ahead of schedule so why rush? It was cool to see the camp empty. An attitude of gratitude from my past life with Rocky Mountain Youth Corps has remained with me as I practiced the old habit of thanking my camp spot (trees, air, earth, water), before I walked away.
My thought was to break up the next two days into low mileage. Be smart, remember the lessons passed on from the many others who came before you. Or not. Once again my lungs and legs were on a different agenda. The silly grin on my face as I hiked, mostly alone, in the brightening skies flooded my brain with endorphins. It is the only explanation I have for going all the way to Woods Hole shelter at mile 27.7. Awash with nostalgia for the town of W.H. in Massachusetts, I promptly sent a photo to my daughter, who sailed from there with a marine research program. I was the last to arrive to the gang of five super nice guys already settled in. Frodo and Samwise were also coming from Gooch. Am I really pacing with 20-something-year-olds? Spoiler alert…the feet keep score and waiting patiently to be heard on the matter. But tonight it’s a gorgeous sunsets and easy banter around a small campfire. Tomorrow the big Blood Mountain climb and resupply box #1 at mountain crossings.
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