Keepin’ It 100 (Miles)
Thoughts and ruminations from the Hilltop Inn in sunny, festive Franklin, NC (they have fantastic waffle cones here!)
Wherefore art thou Dipper?
I actually managed to earn my trail name on day 1 of the trail. And I’ll let you, dear reader, decide how I got the name Dipper:
1) I have a massive tin of delicious Skoal Smokeless Tobacco to feed my massive nicotine addiction.
2) I love astronomy and especially large, galactic ladles.
3) I have the same hat as Dipper Pines from the Disney Channel cartoon “Gravity Falls.”
First reader to guess correctly gets…minor satisfaction? (No material prizes available).
Leave No Trace Rant
You know what really grinds my gears? When people use their own anecdotal personal experiences to invalidate real issues. Case in point: I was cooking dinner at Muskrat Creek shelter the other night, which is notable as the first shelter over the border from Georgia into North Carolina. Georgia shelters all have bear boxes or bear cables for storing food, but North Carolina shelters do not, necessitating a bear hang.
As the discussion in the shelter turned to where bear bags should be hung and different techniques for doing so, an older guy chimed in and said “I dunno, I’ve been hiking these trails for 20 years and hanging my food in the shelter and never had a problem with bears!”
That is just…INSANE logic. I guess because this guy has gotten lucky for 20 years means we should all ignore the advice of local trail clubs and forest rangers! Problem bears aren’t a thing because after all, this guy has never had a problem! I’m sure some dum-dum out there has been riding motorcycles for twenty years and never shattered his skull either!
Point being: hang your food. Don’t tempt bears. Listen to experts.
Nearly There (Not)
I passed by the 100-mile mark just past Mt. Albert, which is cool! And my first thought was, “Congrats Dipper! You’ve completed slightly less than 1/20 of the Appalachian Trail!” It was cool to pass that arbitrary marker and to cross into North Carolina. But it felt more like finishing pre-school when there’s still K-12, bachelor’s degree, Ph.D., Masters, and a career in politics still left to go.
I always knew this would be a dirty endeavor. The legends of noxious hiker stank are legion. But having been out here for 10 days, I’m just now realizing how pervasive and invasive dirt is.
It’s coarse and rough and it gets everywhere. It coats the bottom of the tent, works its way into the sleeping pad, grinds its way into toenails, fingernails, and skin folds. It lodges itself behind ears and in between digits. Clothing and food bags are not immune. Dirt. Is. Everywhere.
I, for one, embrace my new earthy overlord.
I stayed at a hostel last week and found out after the fact that the woman I was bunking with initially felt uncomfortable with sharing a room with a man. And my thought was, is she creating a hostel environment?
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