Monday, February 21, 2011

Not a real post

I'm in a town where I have no cell service and internet access is limited to 20 minutes, so I won't be able to post until I find more reliable service.

But, Pete and I made it to Hot Springs and out of the Smokey Mountains! This is a huge deal to me as I wasn't sure I would even make it to the Smokies. I am happy and tired and missing my family and friends, but I am excited about the adventures to come.

Can't wait to get a few more posts in. What is everyone else doing in the meantime?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The adventures we get are rarely expected

We are taking an unexpected break from The Smokey Mountains in Gatlinburg, TN due to the loss of my rain gear on trail. However, this is not the adventure I am preparing to relate to you but merely the means by which I am able to write to you.

Tuesday, Pete and I snowshoed over eight foot drifts on a seven mile trip over Clingmans Dome, the highest point on the AT. It was grueling and tiring and wonderful. But, this is also not the adventure I am preparing to relate to you.

My most recent adventure happened the night of our Clingmans assent in the quiet and dark of our sanctuary, the shelter. My adventure begins with the barely perceptible skittering of a rodent and ends with a vole attempting to find a toasty home for the night in my sleeping bag.

I woke at two AM to find that our timid shelter companion from earlier in the evening was now crawling rather aggressively on my face. After waking and startling poor Vinny the Vole off my face, he then tried to find a home at my side in my sleeping bag.

It's at this time that I start shouting, "Eaaaaoooow, get it out, get me out of the bag, it's in here..." while dancing the mad dance of panic of a person stuck in her sleeping bag with an unwelcome companion.

Pete woke to this racket thinking that I was being attacked by a bear or boar. He was disappointed to find that it was only a rodent nesting in my bag with me.

Needless to say, on the trail we usually fear the cold and the bears. What we never expected to have to deal with is the penchant of shelter rodents to take issue with is sleeping in their home.

In the end, Vinny the Vole and I made peace and parted ways. I wish him well but hope never to have such a close encounter again.

I will post again after we've made it out of The Smokies.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, February 6, 2011

I'll Be Your Personal Cheerleader

Those of you reading regularly know that I've had a few struggles on this trip. I've questioned my ability to do this and needed a whole lot of encouragement from Pete to keep going. It feels good, for once, to be writing a blog about the other end of the situation.

After our eight day stay in Franklin, Pete and I trudged back up the mountain to pick up where we had to get off. I hate getting off the mountain for weather, because it usually means backtracking, road walking, and logging a lot of non-AT miles onto our feet. The days we spend hiking that include no white blazes (the marks that designate AT trail) are really frustrating for me.

So, when we arrived back at the Standing Indian Shelter for the second time, I expected to simply set up camp, eat a quick dinner as usual, and rack out for the night. Upon arriving, though, we found that we weren't alone in the shelter (this is unusual for us, winter hiking). Walking up to the three sided log building, we were met by the faces of two rather dejected looking men. They'd just started a fire and plopped down in front of it with very little enthusiasm or energy.

The story that we got from these guys was that they were up for an annual guys only week long hiking trip, but hadn't expected their first day to include breaking trail in over a foot of snow. They'd spent a zero day in the shelter and were planning on leaving to go home the next day.

Over the course of the night, we four sat around the fire, sharing stories, songs, food and beverage, and, luckily, the power that a campfire seems to posses worked its magic. As the night grew darker the guys cheered up and began to laugh and tell stories about other trips they'd taken. The crackle and pop of wet logs accented the lighter mood and served as a symbol for our ability to brave the cold of winter hiking. If they can make a fire from frozen logs, I told them, what's a little snow while they walk.

I shared my story. I shared the humiliation of breaking down in tears three days in and calling a shuttle to take me off the mountain and into town so I could go home. We all shared stories of sore, wet feet and cold nights and waking up to frost around the mouth of your sleeping bag.

Slowly, the guys began to realize that there's always a bad day in most hikes and that the fun of making miles and sitting around a fire and waking up to the most beautiful sunrise you've ever seen make it worth the snow and cold and soreness.

The next morning as we all packed up and prepared to part ways, they thanked me for being their personal cheerleader and credited me for keeping them on the trail. I was just glad to pay forward the gift that someone else gave to me.