It feels good to have the May stories behind me and actually writing about June while the month is still ongoing (obviously, this is an old post that didn’t get finished in the month it was started). I feel like a lot of good information was passed over from May to allow me to catch up to the current month. I’ve got to get June caught up now since it is already more than half over (lol). Some good stories need to be told before the facts get blurred over covfefe. So let’s get to it…
Just Pay Attention
The first day of June and we are feeling good. We are hiking alone; or should I say, it’s just Becky and I hiking together. I’m leading our charge at the moment. It’s a nice, sunny day. The trail data book I’m using describes the trail as ‘skirts’ a road; whatever that means. We continue on as the trail actually runs into a gravel road, as we expect, but something seems amiss. I haven’t seen a white blaze for about half a mile.
I get Nancy Drew on the case. I have a PDF version of a guidebook on my phone that I use for direction. Nancy Drew has an app that tracks you on the trail. It says we are off the trail. What?! That doesn’t seem right. Two of us surely didn’t miss a turn. We stubbornly continue on the gravel road. I’m trying to figure out what ‘skirts’ means in my head. We finally accept that we have somehow gotten off the trail but think that if we continue forward that the road will once again meet back up to another trail crossing. It doesn’t. After a couple miles we finally turn back toward where we initially ran into the gravel road,
As soon as we enter the woods again there it is. We missed a right turn up a hill right before exiting onto the road. Or more accurately I missed a turn and Becky blindly followed me as we both had our heads down watching our rocky path for proper footing.
When we approached the road a tree was marked with two white blazes, one directly above the other. Now if there was a right turn I would have thought that the top blaze would have been offset to the right. So as you are going up the trail, you are going up the tree when reading the turns. If a left turn, the top white blaze would be offset to the left. Not anymore. New state I guess equals new rules. One white blaze means go straight. Two white blazes means there is a turn one way or another.
We only get 6.5 miles completed on the actual trail because of our mistake. The day ends with us tenting at Cherry Gap Shelter. Even with the error in direction Becky and I get along great and laugh at our navigation ability.
Friday, June 2, and we hike 7.2 miles. Somewhere along the way Becky starts to laugh. Odd considering we were not talking during that moment and she doesn’t have her earphones in listening to a book. “You okay”, I ask. Happily, Becky responds, “I’m JoJo!”. She revels in the moment about coming up with her own trail name. Her happiness is delightful to me but I tell her that naming yourself is not allowed. Although, it seems to fit.
Her youngest brother goes by JoMo (the first two letters of his first and last name) so there is somewhat of a precedent. I liked Jo on The Facts Of Life while growing up and now Becky is doubling down on that memory with JoJo. I like it but only time will tell if it sticks. She didn’t understand Nancy Drew. Snickers rubbed off on me but never caught on for her. She hated when Ash, Potato, and Bison called her Mom. Now JoJo will challenge for acceptance over the next 1,600 miles. UPDATE: It stuck. We now travel as JoJo and Mr Snickers.
On the 3rd we hiked 10.4 miles that seemed to go straight uphill the entire time. We finished our day by tenting at Roan High Knob Shelter at 6139 feet above sea level; the highest shelter on the trail. Included in the group of people already there is B-Squared and his wife Trinda. They are the couple that gave us a ride directly after Blood Mountain.
B-Squared started hiking the day after he gave us a ride. First night on the trail he fell and broke his wrist. Off the trail he went. For a few weeks he healed and then he got back at it. He started more than a month after us, broke a bone, and still managed to be in front. We, JoJo and I, should seriously consider picking up our pace.
Our Pace Is Our Pace
30 Days in June and we hike 267.5 miles total. We take 4 zero days and when we do hike we average just over 10 miles a day. If we slack pack (using just a day pack) we average 14 miles a day. We slack packed a total of 6 days in June.
Out of those 30 days we spend half sleeping in our tent. One night I was in the tent alone because JoJo slept in a hostel while I pitched the tent outside beside a creek. We stayed at a B&B for two nights. We were together in hostels for 5 nights. The remaining 9 nights were spent in either a cabin lodge or hotel.
June saw a change in our trail family; or tramily, as they are affectionately known. Hikers come and go at their own pace. Sometimes you run back into each other. Most times you don’t. I would venture to say that we have had four distinct groups of hiking partners. We started out with Claus. After him was the combination of Potato, Bison, and Ash. The next was Wolfgang. Finally, a loose combination of Mr O, Sunset, and TinMan has covered the later portion.
As JoJo and I discuss skipping ahead to Maine and hiking south I would imagine that the remainder of the trail will be just the two of us. Although, Sunset is planning a flip around the same time so we will more than likely see her again.
One night JoJo and I stopped to camp alone. Nice flat spot. Water source close by. We sat on a log and used a nice sized rock as a table to eat before an early bedtime. We both slept through the night without waking. Morning came and gave us a rude sight.
I made my way over to the log to sit and have breakfast but the rock table was dirty. Evidently, sometime during the night the rock was used as an altar for a sacrifice. A standing pool of blood was on the tabletop and had started to run down the side of the rock. This was just a mere 10 feet from our tent. No carcass. No explanation. Just a reminder that animals eat other animals during the night. I like to think it was a rodent who thought it would be nice to check out the contents of my backpack or food bag. Karma for thieving rodents.
After our blood rock morning we were a little more observant on the trail. Good thing. JoJo almost walked up to a rattlesnake. The alert for her to stop: its rattle. I didn’t see it at first. I didn’t hear it either. All I saw was her quit walking forward and quickly shuffle backwards. When I inquired what was wrong she just simply said, “Snake.”
We stood in the trail waiting for it to show itself. Slowly it appeared from the brush alongside the trail. It was a Black Timber Rattlesnake. About 5-6 foot long and a good 3-4 inches thick around the midsection. It slowly crossed the path in front of us. We waited. Waited a little more. And once it got about twice it’s length away we hurried past. We had heard they could strike from a distance the length of their body without being coiled up so we didn’t want to chance anything. It gave us a goodbye rattle song as we passed.
More stories to come…
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