Friday, 7 June 2013

Seeing the forest

June 1 - Seeing the forest for the trees 

Last night's sleep wasn't the greatest. I was maybe two miles in a straight line from the interstate and it wasn't until it was dark that I heard how loud it was. And there were trains. It was like I heard them a half hour before they got to me and then it took a half hour for them to fade away. And then there would be another one. 

There were also biting flies, both big'uns and littl'uns. I thought I'd seen no-see-ums before but last night's were the tiniest I'd ever seen. Their bites were tiny too but still annoying to contend with. At first, I put on a long sleeved shirt and stuck my legs under the quilt. But they came and bit me on the hands and face. Finally I had no choice but to rig the bug net. 

So I wasn't in the best mood this morning. Which made me curse the cob webs that I had to keep wiping off my face every ten seconds as I hiked. Usually they're only this bad after a rainy night. But this was ridiculous. I tried using my poles to clear a path but they're so light it only blew them around and they got me anyway. There must've been a thousand of them. And why are they always at head height?

My spirits were lifted when first one and then a second deer were startled by my approach and, letting out snorts, bounded swiftly and sure-footedly across the trail and deeper into the woods. 

I have not seen much wildlife but I have forgotten to mention my run-in with a very upset ruffed grouse. I think it must've been a young mother as she was very small. I startled her and then she scared the crap out of me. She had her tail in fan mode and flapped her wings so hard she hovered above the ground. Then leaning forward she came at me making a lot of noise. It sound half angry and half terrified. Combined, it gave me the willies. As she came at me, I banged my sticks together in front of her and that made her hover off to the side where she regrouped and came at me again. And again. But then she changed her tactics and it looked like she was trying to make me follow her and now her cries sounded like forlorn resignations of having lost and it being the end of the world.  I must have been near her nest. 

There were some steep, and due to the humidity, sweaty climbs today. It was a tiring day. But I finally clued in to a way to help myself. 

There are few suitable places to take a break along the trail. Rocks and fallen trees are few and far between. But trees are plentiful. I've been having meals sitting on the hammock, as it's easier than sitting on the ground and since I've been camping alone, there's one one to go eat a meal with anyway. 

So today, I packed my hammock at the top of my pack and when I wanted a break, I pulled it out and strung it up. It only took two minutes. Perfect trees are not always available when you want them. But they show up more readily than a comfy rock. 

Before the day was over and to add to the difficulty, there were more fields to contend with. You don't appreciate the green tunnel that is the A.T. until it is taken away and replaced with a hot sunny fields that go on forever. 

And the day ended with a climb. Of course. But this time there was something else there - Trail Magic!  From a church group. PB 'n J sandwiches and sodas. I had one of each. No one was there, so I tore out a notebook page and scribbled a thank you note. 

I was going to go further today but the body said no. So when I got to Knot Maul Shelter I called it quits.  Only 12 miles. I wish I could walk further. The sun has lots of life left and if able, I could walk another three or four hours. But it is not to be. C'est la vie. 

I found a Jiffy Peanut Butter cup on the trail. Must've fallen out of someone's pack. I stirred it into my Ramen and tuna for a Thai accent. It was good. :)


  1. What a great post! Trail magic and deer and ruffled ruffed grouses (grice?) and peanut butter cups and cobwebs! I'm thinking maybe the grouse decided - after failing to intimidate you - to feign injury so you'd chase her, and she could lure you away from her nest. Poor little thing.

  2. "I found a Jiffy Peanut Butter cup on the trail" You've discovered the 5 hour rule..... In my home if food hits the floor I have the 5 second rule , but on the Trail, you simply brush away any dirt(optional) and eat it.

    Three guys are sitting having a beer and a fly lands in their drinks, the first guy , an office worker, demands the waiter to bring him a freshly poured beer, the second guy, a mechanic, picks the bug out and wipes the rim of the glass, The third guy, who is hiking the A.T., grabs the fly by the wings an yells "spit it out damn you !!"