Tuesday, April 17, 2018

I Went Camping Alone on Friday the 13th and Lived to Tell About It!

There is something about the Appalachian Trail that calls me like the sirens in the Odyssey.  The pathway with its white blazes beckon me to traverse the trail.  The white blazes beckon me keep moving forward.  The trail takes my spinning brain and starts to unravel and slow it down.  I feel more connected to myself and my loved ones while on the trail.  It allows me to process emotions and feelings more thoroughly.  I am so lucky to have a husband that knows how important this 2,190 mile journey is to me and never questions why.  I don't even think I know the reason why.  All I know is that I have been itching to get back on the trail.  When the weather forecast for Friday and Saturday was supposed to be beautiful throughout most of the southeast and Dan was scheduled for a couple of rounds of golf, Miles ToGo and I went for an adventure.  Miles is now 82.2 pounds and LOVES being off leash and stays very close by while we hike.  He is now old enough to carry his own food, but I hadn't bought one yet so I got to carry everything.  This time.  We hiked 43 miles in 2 days and 1 night of camping. 

 I didn't realize it was Friday the 13th until a radio announcer in a commercial was talking about Friday the 13th specials at some local bar in Virginia.  My eyes got really big when it dawned on me that TODAY was Friday the 13th.  I looked in the rear view mirror and adjusted my crown attitude.  I can run over 100 miles in 24 hours so I know I can do it.  If it meant not sleeping a wink, I think I could have done it.  I found solace in that fact.  I drove to my starting point at Grayson Highland Park and took off NOBO (Northbound) toward Route 81 where Dan was coming to pick me up to retrieve my car the next evening.

We hiked some pretty hilly terrain and were rewarded with some awesome views during our hike.  Not every mile on the trail is blessed with magnificent views.  In fact, you have to work to get to  most of them.  Miles loved swimming and splashing around in the streams along the trail which were pretty full of water.

We arrived at the Trimpi Shelter which was where I wanted to camp for the night since the odds were there would be people there and it was Friday the 13th for goodness sake.  My fears were allayed as when I arrived there were already 2 thru-hikers setting up for the night.  One in the shelter, one in a tent. 

We exchanged pleasantries and I went a little farther away to set up my little tent.  My tent feels like my little magic bubble.  If I can't see any spiders, snakes, skunks, racoons, bears, bobcats and anyone else in the animal kingdom than they can't see me.  Yes, I know that sounds ridiculous but it is my reality. It has worked so far.  Anyway, there were 7 in total for the night so I felt some comfort knowing there were people around if I needed them.

I turned in at 8:15pm because it is dark and I knew we had quite a long day to hike the next day and if I had any prayer of sleep I better try and snag it when I felt I needed it.  I slept pretty soundly till 2:30am when Miles bolted upright and let out a low growl.  A growl I had never heard before.  I was wide awake with my heart pounding, but I never unzipped my tent.  Again, I was in my magic bubble.  I couldn't hear anything over my beating heart so I just decided to lie back down and try and sleep.  I slept fitfully after that and finally got up a little after 6am.

Miles and I were on the trail by 6:45am and had the best time by ourselves.  We crossed over a cute little bridge and then we saw it:  a TRAIL MAGIC bus!  If you are not familiar with the term it is simply a person or group of people who bring all kinds of food, drinks and supplies and give you handouts of whatever you want.  It is magical.  I didn't want to take anything since I was only out there 2 days and wanted to save the vast array of goodies for the thru-hikers, but he insisted and I quickly cave in and took a rootbeer and an oatmeal creme pie.  Best decision ever made. Trail magic is something I would love to do one day just to see the faces of the hikers.  Priceless.

Anyway, we were off and the rest of the trip was uneventful.  We arrived at our prescribed meeting spot (Route 615- Settler's Museum) early so I sat on the porch and called Dan.  He was just leaving so he wasn't going to be there for 2 more hours.  There was a short stretch that was 2.8 miles so that he could meet me right off of Route 81.  After a couple of phone calls, a 20 minute meditation/stretching session, we decided to go for it.  I didn't want Dan to wait on me so we actually ran a little bit of it and arrived 20 minutes before Dan got there. 

I sat with Miles on a park bench at a gas station dirty, slightly sunburned, sweaty and tired.  I hadn't combed my hair in 2 days (I did brush my teeth 3 times, I do have some standards, lol) so I know I must have looked pretty bad because nice local folk made conversation with me to make sure I was okay and that I didn't need a ride somewhere.  I thanked them and gave Dan the biggest hug when I saw him.  I didn't care how much I smelled. 

I cannot wait to get back out there.  I feel the peace, the tranquility, but more importantly I feel alive.


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