Enjoying The Finer Points
After the crazy party the night before of salad, tea, laundry, and spades the morning alarm comes way to early. Actually, there was no alarm. There hasn’t been an alarm clock set at anytime on this trip. And I’m starting to like it. We wake up when our bodies say it is time to get up. So every morning we wake up feeling like we have gotten enough sleep. It’s wonderful; until you try to move. Then you remember that sleep doesn’t take care of the stretching that you are neglecting. But hey, baby steps, amiright.
We hit Betty’s IGA Grocery in the morning and Rose and Jeff drive us back to the trail. Rose wanted us to take another zero day in Helen but Becky and I were concerned it was just too soon from our last one and didn’t want to get lazy. We pick up Gouda cheese slices and some pita chips. We each carry a big apple and some tiny oranges. We also replace our water bottles once again to help prevent sickness. We have now replaced our water bottles twice and our toothbrushes once already within two weeks. Easter Sunday and off we go. As with everyday before, it starts with an uphill climb.
A New Nemesis
Easter Sunday at 3:30pm and I am afraid that my hike is over. A new pain just started in my right hip. This is in addition to the right knee pain that is ever present on any downhill step. At times it shoots so deep that I stop myself from going to one knee. That is saying something because when the right foot touches the ground I have my other foot and both trekking poles firmly planted for stability and the right hip doesn’t care. I take a break and eat my apple and a couple oranges. I do a couple stretches. Icy hot is put over a large area and the heat seems to help or at least mask. Off I go, telling Becky it’s fine.
We finish almost 7 miles and camp at Tray Mtn Shelter. We get there a little late in the day (as we always do) and as I approach on the blue blaze trail I start to see tents taking up the flat spots before I can even see the shelter. Thinking I’m going to outsmart the group of guys who were walking in front of me I stop on one of the two remaining front spots on the approach trail.
Blue Blaze Approaches
The entire Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine is marked with white rectangles that are taller than they are wide. They are painted on trees or boulders so when there is any question on which way to go you just follow the white blazes; as they say. At times, the shelters or water sources are off side trails that are marked with similar blue blazes. How long those blue blaze approach trails are and how steep are usually noted in the more detailed maps or books you use to navigate. This information allows you to determine if you want to walk that extra distance for whatever benefit awaits at its end knowing that you have to walk back the same distance in order to get back on the Appalachian Trail.
Don’t Stop Short Of The Shelter
So there I am outsmarting everybody who passed these two delightful flat spots on the shelter approach trail. Becky is going to be so proud of me. Obviously, I don’t have to go any farther to know nothing of value remains closer. Why else would these people already be camping this far out?
Becky shows up and is not impressed. “Why all the way out here?” she asks. Myself, just happy my knee and hip continue to let me enjoy upright movement, feel deflated. I pout and we compromise to move to the next spot in. While setting up our tent the guys in front of me during my arrival our hiking back out from the shelter. They take the spot we just vacated. Ah ha, I mumble to myself. Justified!
After eating silently we grab our water bags and filters and head into the crowded shelter area. First up is a crowded little tent area with an amazing lookout. Next up, a couple decent campsites on each side of Preach (a hiker we’ve talked to a few times). Then the shelter. A few spots are available around the shelter but nothing special. Only two people are actually using the shelter. Where is everybody? There is no crowd here. Why did those guys hike back out? All questions with no answer.
Nancy Drew Solves My Mystery
So we get water, visit the privy, and head for bed. It is just getting dark and we are hoping the early night will give way to an early morning for us to catch the sunrise. Nancy Drew brings her pack into the tent to prop her leg on for the night. She is trying to find a way to alleviate some knee issue as well.
When we awake there is a small puddle of water at my feet. Nancy left her drain valve open and her leg squeezed out all the water left in her camelback. My socks aren’t wet. My sleeping bag kept the water out. The water had only pooled in one corner and was easily funneled out of the tent. The sleeping bag I just laid on top of the tent and it dried easily. What could have been a disaster is simply a little hiccup.
With the known water problem resolved we set out to begin our hike. After getting all packed up we find two trekking poles are no longer around camp. I immediately suspect Nancy’s backpack. It proves false. They are legitimately gone. Nancy says 99.9% sure she had hers last night; thereby, making me the main suspect.
We watch an amazing sunrise and then head out. As we pass the first campsite I tried to stay at the day before there hangs my trekking poles. The guys that hiked out from the shelter the night before must have found them. They left them hanging on a tree with the handles clinging to a carabiner. Nancy Drew states through all her mysteries that she “actually never had to have my items returned to me by having someone hang them from a tree.”
Top Of Georgia Hostel
We hike 11 miles to the road where we are only 1/2 mile road walk to our hostel for the night. It rains and hails on us for the last mile. Another potential disaster that is easily fixed as we are getting laundry done that night. A zero day and mail drop await!
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“So every morning we wake up feeling like we have gotten enough sleep. It’s wonderful; until you try to move. Then you remember that sleep doesn’t take care of the stretching that you are neglecting. But hey, baby steps, amiright.”
Seriously one of the truest things I know! We literally cannot wait to have that feeling again of waking up with the sun and when your body tells you it’s time! Hope your pain subsides and allows you to press on!! Also hope your mysteries continue to get solved! Happy trails!