Friday, April 7, 2017

Twelve Mile Snail

Morning arrived with a fine crust of ice on the tent, so I took time to consider my options and sort out the minimum amount of gear for my half mile walk downhill to the little brook I skipped, since AWOL's guide assured me of water ahead at the campsite. Uh-huh.

Shivery sleep last night, drifting awake to pull layers back over cold spots and listening to the rattle of hail on the tent above me. And, yes -- cathole, me, hail. Unforgettable 3 am experience.

A half dozen hikers passed by as I was filtering water. Any bear activity at Thunder Hill shelter? No. Water? Plenty, little brick catchpool. Four miles -- definitely going to be a NERO for me today, a near zero miles hiking day.

One young red-bearded hiker -- Honeybum, with a PCT badge on his pack and several others -- stopped to chat, made me feel better about the day -- said the wind chill bothered him, and he grew up in Wisconsin. I asked him about the trouble I had dealing with dry spots on the trail, given my slow pace and burnout past 12 miles? He smiled and said, "Hey, you have to respect your own limits. If you're a twelve mile snail, then that's what you hike, right?"

So, at least on the AT, I have a new name. I'm the Twelve Mile Snail.

Hearing about my southbound plan, Honeybum interjected praise of the beautiful views of some cliffs just south of Dalesville -- "Tinker Cliffs?" I asked. That was the name, he said, awe inpiring. I suggested he get a copy of Pilgrim at Tinkers Creek, one of those tales written well by Annie Dillard, one of those who have the gift. Wikipedia has a synopsis here:

I haven't made it through the whole book, but have concluded that the year she spent looking for God in birds, insects, and muskrats, was likely a better choice than the decades I have burned staring in awe at great towers of stone like the Cliffs here.

Well. I am hiking my own hike.

Four hours later, I arrived at Thunder Hill shelter, set up camp, filtered water, ate dinner, and curled up in my tent by 5, listening to the winds roar through the trees.

Three miles out, 600 feet up. Back on track.

Tell me what a cold night feels like
This is what a cold night feels like!
Tell me what a cold night feels like
This is what a cold night feels like!

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