I hiked 25 miles yesterday, and scared a snake, a toad, and an unnamed leaping insect that was quite surprised to find itself on my thumb as I rampaged through the foliage. I, too was surprised, dear Watson. It is a symptom of a larger problem.
I have been wondering, you see, in the depths of my teeny brain, whether there are fewer blueberries here than on the Pinhoti Trail, or if I am just failing to notice them. Yesterday, in the midst of the rampaging, I took a side trip up to the summit of Rocky Bald, and confirmed that I am simply failing to notice. Alas, Watson. I shall endeavor to be better at this hiking thing. In my defense, the 25 miles were hiked because I was very hungry, and I wanted a full breakfast and to hike a single mile this morning (it was a very good breakfast, and a very pleasant mile). I then descended from the side trail, and providentially met a very nice couple who were going south, instead of north (which they wanted to be), then descended into a gap, was given free beer as the only thru-hiker in the general vicinity (which I put into my backpack- it is hard to hike with beer), and then climbed to an observation platform, conversated with college age camp counselors, and had my beer with my dinner. Dinner was, dear Watson, granola and figs, because I failed to plan for loitering earlier this week. It was delicious, and then the night hike afterwards under the almost-full moon into the valley was filled with earth shadows and purple sunset and birch bark gleaming across the darkness. (Nantahala is the valley’s name, which means “land of the noon-day sun” in Cherokee).
I then slept without putting up my rain fly, which was a Grave Mistake. Waking up and being dripped on is not so bad, but knowing that everything will now be wet forever until you have a dry day and the chance to air it out tends to put a damper (aha. ha. Ok I am sorry) on any midnight awakenings. (No worries, though- I did my laundry today and everything is dry! HUZZAH.)
One of the stories I have heard was about how Benton Mackaye, the founder of the AT, fell out with his compatriots and frustratedly commented (about the trail) that Americans will make a race out of everything. It is probably quite true. I do have to keep quashing my anxiety that I am not covering enough miles in a day. (I am getting better, Watson.) A common expectation is that as you get your trail legs, you speed up, and the wind blows through your hair and you get faster and faster, until one day you reach escape velocity, and then what is there for you but speed and space and rocket ships, my dear Watson? I tell you, it is quite hard to eat delicious foliage and terrorize small fawns along the trail if all you can see is a green blur, but I also aspire towards rocket ships. Who can judge anyone for that?
I have also reached the point at which I can feel day hikers or section hikers (on the trail for shorter times) look at me and think many things when I talk, like, “truly she says many words and they do not all make sense,” and, “is she really going to eat all that” (YES.) and, “this person is rather odd and smelly,” and, “how do we get away.” It is because all I do is ask questions to myself in my head as I hike for hours. What am I doing? Is this leaf poisonous? Who has connectivity on the trail? Verizon users, that’s who. Sometimes I write letters, although I currently have two finished in my possession and have not sent any.
Anyways, it is getting later. I am typing this on the WordPress app (wow, technology) and will hopefully get better at writing things with pictures, so instead of having pictures of butterflies and century-old trees and small wildlifes peering at me through the grass, I will put them here so you can look at them and think things like, “wow that is a big tree,” and “how many pictures of bugs can there be in the world?” (So many, Watson. So many. It is good for you that I do not upload my pictures.)
Have a wonderful week, Watson. I will go now and sit by the river for a while. Oo. My “contact” page has been updated, so you are also now in possession of where I think I might be by a certain date, if you want to send letters directly there.
Keep on being great, my peoples! I shall go. Thanks for the comments and updates 🙂 they are wonderful to read, and I enjoy hearing about your lives. I have made it from Georgia to North Carolina, and will go through Smoky Mt. National Park in a couple of days- see you after!