Waiting for the Dawn
Posted from the home of a wonderful trail angel family in Lake Junaluska, NC who picked us up and treated us like family. Thank you to Nancy and Larry, their three delightful children and two affectionate dogs for a very wonderful overnight visit.
For me, sleeping outside is a restless endeavor at best. It’s not that my air mattress isn’t comfortable enough or that my sleeping bag isn’t warm enough, its just that… it’s not a bed!
The other thing is, Backfire and I go to bed so darned early while we are hiking that the night is really, really long. After we finish our ‘chores’ of setting up the tent, cooking our food, filtering our water, brushing our teeth and hanging our bear bag, it’s usually only 7 o’clock. We go to bed mostly because there’s nothing else to do. We didn’t bring any books–they weigh too much, and we don’t play games or watch movies on our ‘thingies’ like some people do. When you go to bed at 7:00, it takes a very long time for dawn to come!When I sleep in a shelter instead of a tent, it’s the snoring that keeps me awake. Last night, I was the only woman in a shelter with twelve men! I woke up to snoring on my right and snoring on my left. My job is to nudge Mel if he is snoring, but it was pitch black last night and I had forgotten which side he was on! I couldn’t run the risk of nudging a strange man (even if he was sleeping next to me), so I just listened–and waited for the dawn.
The other thing that keeps me awake at night is having to go to the bathroom. Eleven hours is a long time to wait. Last night was particularly difficult because I was on the second ‘shelf’ of the shelter. It would be hard to sneak out without waking everybody up. Even a plastic bag makes a lot of noise in a quiet woods on a quiet night–and I would have to dig my flashlight out of a bag before I did anything else. I tried to be quiet, but even my air mattress made noise.
After I located my flashlight, put on my shoes and socks and a fleece jacket, I had to crawl on my hands and knees across the floor to the ladder without kicking someone in the head. Getting down the ladder and out of the shelter with minimal lighting and my legs crossed presented another set of problems altogether. It’s so easy to trip over your own feet when you’re tired and desperate and trying to be quiet. It’s even harder to pull it off successfully when you’re almost 70 years old. But I did it!
After I had successfully made my foray into the woods, I crept back to the shelter and into my sleeping bag as quietly as possible and waited once more for dawn to come.
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Jeanne, Nancy and her family hosted our family on our thru-hike last year. Wonderful people.
Yes, wonderful people! I felt honored that Nancy chose to host us!