Sunday, March 22, 2015

M22 Nanatahala Outdoor Center

I walked .8mi into the Noc this morning.

I had a food drop waiting. Man was I worried about all of my food weight. It's been slowing me down, but since I'm doing this hike for free I'm too scared to ditch any food in a hiker box.

My food box was awesome, mostly snacks and easy to  make meals. I even snagged a few tasty treats from another hiker. Some friends wanted to buy lunch, but I passed it up. I don't want to take too much from other hikers. They need their money for their own journeys. But my karma's been good. I walked off to take a shower and there was a snack pack on my sleeping bag when I came back.

I spent all day in the sunshine, resting and talking to hikers as they came through. I got to talk to Steph briefly. I was so happy to hear her voice and know that she's ok. She's in Colorado now.

I might stealth camp here for the night, or I might push on. I just know that first climb out is going to be a bitch with all my food weight right now.

M21 Boil them Beans

The view this morning was awesome. For hours as the sun kept rising, a blanket of cloud cover hung low over the valley.

I walked for several hours until it warmed up, just enjoying the view every step of the way.

Made it to shelter, and I stayed there for hours. I had some dry black beans that I've been packing for a while, so I got a fire going and boiled them while I took a long break.

Thought it was a good idea to walk a few miles after dark, but it was fucking steep going down to Noc. I stumbled all over the place. My foot slipped off trail a couple times, nearly sending me tumbling down the mountain.

I stumbled into the last shelter and slept next to the fire.

M20 Bacon and Pancakes

I woke up, packed my things, grabbed the church breakfast again and caught the 9 o'clock shuttle back to the trail.

It was a weird day of hiking. It was overcast, slightly rainy, and it just completely threw off my sense of time. It just felt like the day was dragging.

I had my first debate over what kind of hike I'm doing. I'm going to be a white blaze purist. I don't mind missing a couple feet of the trail. However, I did .5mi down to a shelter, then there was another .3 to reconnect with the trail. If I followed the blue blaze, I would have skipped half a mile of trail. I decided that was too much, so I backtracked.

Like I said, it was a weird day. I realized it I was the date after my friend committed suicide, so maybe that had something to do with it. It felt like the grim specter of death was around the corner. I dunno, maybe I was just lonely.

After I made it to the shelter, we passed the guitar around. Some people did poetry. A Swiss couple sang a song straight out of the Alps. Ollie played the banjo. It was an awesome night.

M19 A wise man eats when he can

I woke up in the dark, hearing a door open. I checked the time, jumped into my shoes and ran across the street.

The baptist church in Franklin does an all you can eat breakfast. Every morning, they make pancakes, bacon, coffee and orange juice, and they send a shuttle to pick up the hikers.

I took the eleven o'clock shuttle back to the trail at a place called rock gap. Ronny Haven, a local trail legend, played my guitar for a few mintues and offered to give me a case to keep ot dry in the rain.

A few miles up the trail there's another place called winding stair gap. As I walked those miles, I kept thinking about how awesome it would be to have that breakfast again.

So at the next gap, I tried hitching back to town. The fog was thick and drivers couldn't even see me until they were already going past. But there was this dude in a camper. I had met him the day before at Rock Gap where he gave Oliver and I some snacks.

He waved me over and gave me a ride back into town in his camper.

I went looking for a place to crash for the night. I found Ronny Haven, and asked him about camping for the night. He runs a hotel business, so he didn't want to give anything for free, but he's such a good guy he offered me a place to camp. I didn't need to though. Another trail angel hanging around town paid for me to bunk in the hostel.

So I had a place to crash and some time to kill, so I bummed around, walking and trying to find my hiking buddies.

At a local shop, I asked the clerk if there were any hiker friendly restaurants. "They're all hiker friendly. Dude, what are you looking for?" I told him I was looking for a place to do some dishes for a meal. He looked at me like I was a straight bum having some hard times. He offered me some trail bars on the spot, but said he could find me a place.

So next thing, his buddy is giving me a ride to a local restaurant. They sat me down and let me eat whatever I wanted. I had meatloaf. Then, they offered me dessert or some food to take with him, but I didn't wanted to take more than I needed. I called the owner later. I thanked him. I offered to come back and do some dishes or help close the kitchen, but he said no, "Business is great and I'm happy to help a hiker."

Then I went to the hotel, spent the evening with several hikers just passing the guitar around.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

M18 Franklin, North Carolina

I've started waking up with the first light of the day. I peek out of my sleeping bag when the first hours of the day come. From the first time I see light through the trees, I'm awake. I can't help being awake. I might try to roll over, try to keep warm for another hour, but I can't help the urge to get up and going.

The miles have been getting easier as my food weight drops. We had a steep climb up Mt. Albert, then all downhill. Found trail magic beers in a cool mountain spring. Then we hitched a ride from a couple hispanic guys in a truck.

I slept in Franklin, NC. Then got an all you can pancake and bacon breakfast this morning.

My minds been spacing into a series of reoccurring thoughts. Sometimes its creative bursts of poetry or a moment to reflect upon the angle of the wind, the color of a bird. Sometimes I think for long hours about what to do with my life off trail.

I was worried about Steph last night. I hadn't heard from her for a few days. Took her five minutes to reply to me, but it felt like forever. Shes alright. Shes traveling West with our friends. I'm happy to be independent for  a short while, but it feels selfish. I hope we're still there for each other after I get off trail.

M17 Lady Liberty

Today seemed like it just meandered along, the trail contouring to the mountain's insistance.

The matron's face is draped in a fabric
By mavericks who power their say through the established
Her veil is waving, re-furled by winds ever-changing.

While reds stifle the pronouncements her nostrils flare wide to scent,
The cigar room stench of sweat lust from hot pipes clenched,
By whites so blinded that hollows be thy names,
Suffocation sets through,
So the pucker blues

So you think you can tell

March 16

Last night I made to a shelter with Oliver. I must of had a puff (or two) of something funny because I went into a 40 min rant about Steph's and my adventures.

I hiked all day today with Oliver. We had tons to talk about, making new friends. We even jammed on our lunch break.

Its been hot and tough hiking the past two days. My food weight has been slowing me down. I'm excited for every water source. I still miss my best friend.

I'm slowing down.

I made it to a campsite with a dozen other hikers.

Tonight I'm sleeping under the stars.

*if only I had a better camara