Springer to the NOC, and the First Week Is in the Bag
OK, so I wasn’t in the best shape when I started out. Still managing an average of 20 miles per day. My cardiovascular system is taking personal offense to the uphill portions of the trail, but each day it gets better. The four-mile downhill to the NOC (Nantahala Outdoor Center) offended my legs and overall sense of well-being. But, as I am spending the night and have a cheeseburger and beer in my belly, I am willing to withhold a grudge.
I have been extremely lucky. Even the days that were overcast did not produce a great deal of rain. Only had one night of rain, and that was a rip-roaring thunder and lightning affair with enough rain to qualify for the term deluge. The last four have been sunny and warm. Looks like things are going to take a turn for the worse though.
Camping is interesting on the AT. Apparently a large percentage of hikers don’t leave camp until after 9:30 a.m., with some even later. I know this because I hike past the shelters and campsites and no one appears to be in much of a rush. Now, I don’t see everyone getting up before the ass crack of dawn like I do, but didn’t expect to see people leaving camp as I’ve just finished eight miles or so.
So, It’s Easter Sunday
It began just fine.
I get up at my usual time, way too early for most people. I’m on the trail (with headlamp) having a lovely, quiet romp in the woods. I stop on a large rock to view the pink sunrise on the horizon and have breakfast. Life is good.
Then it all goes to shit.
I pass by a campsite and have the unfortunate pleasure of witnessing a woman pooping just ten feet off the trail. As I’m wrapping my brain around that, ten minutes later I have to stop hiking because another dude is shitting one foot off the trail! He’s all “sorry,” and I’m thinking to myself, “No, I’m sorry I had to witness two people shitting in ten minutes because they were too damn lazy to move 70 feet from the trail!” To my credit this was my inside voice (yeah me!). I mean really! Unless you are harvesting methane for alternate trail energy, get that shit off the trail. Literally. Hey, I’ve eaten too much pepperoni on the trail before and understand the urgency of some moments, but I still managed the situation off the trail. Ah, that felt good.
Easter saves the day.
So I manage to get over that and move on. I come up on Scrambled Eggs, a young kid I met the day before at the Top of Georgia Hostel. I had politely asked him to find a hiking partner and give them the trail name of Ham, so I could say, “Hey, it’s Scrambled Eggs and Ham.” He didn’t find a hiking partner. I was disappointed.
But anyhoo, Scrambled Eggs says (running past me as only the young can), “A guy says there’s trail magic at the next pass.” I didn’t have the heart to tell him it was Easter in North Carolina, I’m pretty sure everyone is in church. Well, wasn’t I surprised when there were Easter eggs sitting on the trail and a banner declaring the 27th Annual AT Easter Feast. Never been so glad to be wrong. There was an omelette station, a sandwich station, and a plethora (such a fun word) of other treats. Had a turkey sandwich with all the fixings made up to go along with a salad in a ziplock for dinner. When I got to camp that night, I sat on a big ole log and had me a big ole sandwich. Life was good. Happy Easter all!
Trail Names. Not People, the Trails
As pictures speak louder than words, I leave you with a couple of my favorites.
That’s Swinging Dick Gap.
Next Stop the Smoky Mountains
As much as I’d love to stay and chat, I need my beauty rest before heading into the Smokies. But we’ll chat later for sure.
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