Appalachian Trail – October 4th, 2013
I headed up hill, hiking fast, pounding through the cold mist to generate some heat. Wet, dead leaves swished and sloshed around my feet, as I watch the trail in front of me closely. Fall leaves were hiding trail obstacles, and one misstep could end a hike. It also helped to focus on the here and now, to keep my mind from wandering home. A little homesickness was ok, but if you allowed yourself to wallow, your mind played tricks. Loneliness is the single biggest reason that most long distance hikes end. There are always a thousand reasons, but at the core, they are usually justifications wrapped in loneliness.
The weather was humid and misty, and chilly. I started out with a short climb, and was drenched in sweat twenty minutes into the hike. I had failed to remove layers because I was distracted, but it was not cold enough to cause issues with hypothermia. I unzipped and allowed the breeze generated by my incredible speed (cough) to slowly wick away the moisture and begin drying out my shirt and jacket.
The terrain was nice, and I made good time. I ran in to several people out walking on the trail around Falls Village. It appears they had lost power on Main Street, so everyone was out and about. They all had dogs that barked and raised their hackles at me, so I always stopped about 10 feet away to chat.
As it began to grow dark, I came out of a climb and headed off into the woods to find a place to camp. I looked down off the ridge and saw a large clear spot. I was in luck. I circled like a dog bedding down, looking for a flat place, turning this way and that, and as I turned I saw a large wooden number four on a tree. It appeared I had stumbled across Belter’s camp site. I spent ten minutes finding a flat spot. The entire area could have fit twenty tents and the one spot I found was angled down hill. I did not realize this until I laid down under the tarp, and of course was too lazy to pull all my gear out and reset the shelter.
I settled in for the night, at an angled position, to prevent rolling down the hill. I knew I would sleep poorly, but as I weighed getting up and moving everything vs light, intermittent restless sleep, I slowly drifted off to dream land.