October Mountain Shelter to Mt. Wilcox South Shelters – 25 miles
I am truly filthy and I smell terrible. I’m at the point where I delay getting dressed in the morning because I don’t want to touch my own sticky clothes.
I haven’t showered since Hanover, NH, mainly because it’s been so inconvenient. To be worth the effort, I need to be able to shower and do laundry at the same time. These facilities have been on the opposite ends of recent towns, so I haven’t bothered.
Once I start hiking I’ll be drenched in sweat again within a mile, so it’s really hard to justify the trouble of laundry at all. Yesterday I met a NOBO who said he hadn’t showered since Duncannon, PA; I’m in good company.
Several northbounders insisted I stop at Upper Goose Pond, which is supposed to have great swimming. My plan was to swim and do lake laundry, to knock the funk down a few notches.
I started by soaking my feet in the cool water. I scrubbed off the dirt that’s been caked on my toes since the Vermont mud, and rubbed off some of the calloused skin. About a dozen large fish swarmed to eat the skin flakes and I had to shoo them away. I suddenly lost all interest in swimming.
At this point it looks like I’ll stay grungy until at least the next town.
Later in the afternoon, things fell apart.
I bonked hard, so I stopped to eat a snack and filter some water. My allotted food didn’t come close to satiating my raging appetite and I still felt hungry, like I wouldn’t have enough calories to drag myself the last few miles to camp.
I scooped water out of a murky, stagnant puddle. My water bag burst when I tried to squeeze filter it and I had to rely on my backup bleach for treatment, which I always question.
After that, I noticed a tiny, skin-colored tick on my water bottle. I tried to squish it but it landed on my lap and got away. At camp, I tried to do a tick check but I was so dirty it was hard to distinguish the scabs and flecks of dirt from possible parasites. Maybe I’ll get Lyme disease AND waterborne diarrhea…
Today’s terrain was even more monotonous than normal, which wasn’t so bad until an overly cheery day hiker came by and asked if this wasn’t the prettiest place I’ve ever hiked. I silently disagreed and wished I could listen to music or stories for entertainment through the green tunnel of maples. Unfortunately, I have to conserve battery because I haven’t been able to fully charge my phone in 10 days. My flashlight is also almost burned out because it’s been getting dark so early.
I saw very few other hikers all day, which meant I took more spider webs to the face than usual. One northbounder told me he saw a group of three young SOBOs just ahead. I was excited to meet them, but I never did. After all day alone, I am alone at the shelter.
I was awake all night chasing away mice that were scampering around my head. While I was up I heard the slow, plodding footsteps of a bear right outside the shelter. During all this, I dropped my water bottle off the top bunk and broke the lid, so 12 ounce is now down to zero ounces water capacity.
I’m hungry, worn out, and alone. Right now I want someone to complain about this day with, but it’s just me and the mice… and possibly a bear.
I am making an extra town stop tomorrow to correct the fixable problems – to eat more food, wash my clothes, and buy replacement batteries and water bottles. I can’t control when or if I’ll find hiking partners, but I am ready for some company after a full month by myself.
Today was not much fun and was the first time I thought seriously about quitting the trail. I am out here because I want to be, not because there is any obligation. I’d like to keep it that way. I have nothing to prove by finishing, though reaching Springer Mountain would be nice.
My goals were to move out of Seattle, get some exercise, and to steer my life in a direction I’m more excited about. At this point, I feel like I’ve already accomplished those goals.
Like I’ve been saying all along, I will continue to walk as long as I’m having a good time. As soon as it becomes a chore, there are other things I’d rather be doing.