The Bomb Diggity Smiggity!

She’s the bomb…strong like bull…she likes hiking…she has been in a hiking club for years…ahem…sort of anyway…hiking was how i got to know we were compatible in the first place…when the suggestion was made that we live together…my immediate reaction was that we go backpacking for a long weekend…if we still felt the same after that…then we’d cohabitate…

Insert obligatory old movie quote…March or Die…1973…Starring Gene Hackman and Terrence Hill:

“Some of you men will try to quit. Others will try to run away. No man in this command has ever succeeded. If the Legion doesn’t get you, the desert will. If the desert doesn’t, the Arabs will. And if the Arabs don’t, then I will. I don’t know which is worse.”

Plus i really wanted Jodie to have some of what i had…and i thought i could show her a smidgeon of what a true Appalachian Trail “thru hike” might be like…a thumbnail…or Reader’s Digest version to all you throwbacks from the wayback…so my thoughts were for us to cover…in some capacity…the first three hundred miles…start at Amicolola and climb Springer…do northern Georgia…some of Carolina Del Norte…then tackle the Smokies…and finish at the first trail town on the AT…Hot Springs…wooohaawooohaa!

Nother movie quote here….Platoon…1986…Charlie Sheen…Tom Berenger…Willam Defoe:

Y’all take a good look at this lump of shit. Remember what it looks like. You fuck up in a firefight and I goddamn guarantee you a trip out of the bush in a body bag! Out here, assholes, you keep your shit wired tight at all times!…And the next son of a bitch I catch copping “Z”s in the bush, I’m personally gonna take an interest in seeing him suffer. I shit you not. Doc, tag him and bag him.

It’s kinda hard not to underestimate the Appalachian Trail…it’s crazy beautiful…relatively accessible…and incredibly inviting…but also really…really…hard at times…some times i think it should be called the Appalachian Creek instead of Trail…then it snows or hails…or there’s a twist…or a stumble…or blister that derails momentum…and that godam backpack!…everything in that monkey finger represents fear… fear of freezing to death… fear of starvation… exposure… dehydration… sickness… contusion… laceration… not being able to rest… boredom… surprise squirrel attack… etc… and it weighs 20-40effinglbs…

The Matrix

Morpheus: This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.

People ask about my “best” memories and i have these pictures…sitting on top of Blood Mountain…or Rainbow Trail…MacAffee Knob….and so forth…but that’s all they are really…pictures in my mind…things i remember best are the hard times…and the folks that went through them with me…like the 12.6 miles in the howling wind and rain when it was 34 degrees…or the 18m we did over Clings to get to Gatlinburg to beat the road closure…Boulevard Trail from LeConte to Icewater Springs in the deepest snow…

If—

Rudyard Kipling, 18651936

If you can keep your head when all about you
   Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
   But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
   Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
   And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
   If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
   And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
   Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
   And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
   And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
   And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
   To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
   Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
   Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
   If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run—
   Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And—which is more—you'll be a Man, my son!

Blood and noodles

Wednesday – Day Four – we rolled out of our Lance Creek tent site slowly at around 9am after fueling up on oatmeal and coffee as usual. The morning light in the gap gently turned from gray to purple to peach to periwinkle.

Day 4 I saw my first needle ice – caused by the earth temperature being above freezing and the air temperature being below freezing.

This short 7.2 mile hike took us over Blood Mountain, the tallest Georgia mountain on the AT at an elevation of 4,457′.

Stunning views at the top of Blood Mountain – Jonathan got out his compass and he and K2 figured they could see Atlanta.

Inside the historic rock shelter built in 1934, I overheard another hiker doing a phone interview from inside his tent.

The wind wanted to blow us off Blood Mountain on the way down. The insulated tube to my Camelbak froze from the wind chill for about an hour or two.

Yet when we hit Neel Gap and Mountain Crossings Outfitter, Jonathan announced he’d gotten an answer finally from Blood Mountain Cabins. K2 had called twice earlier and hit their answering machine. We were elated and immediately hoofed it down the quarter mile side trail to the main cabin lobby.

Jonathan bunked with a fellow who started the day as a thru hiker and by the next morning he was through hiking. That’s how bad coming off Blood Mountain was!

K2 and I bunked solo until we heard Scotty Roo was headed our way and then it was the three of us in for the night.

Our first showers in four days! Even the simple pleasure of being inside and drinking from a tap delighted us. Plus we had our laundry done – true lap of luxury.

On the way down Blood Mountain – the wind chapping my skin, my knees aching – a random vision of spaghetti marinara sustained me. Why a huge, hot plate of Italian noodles smothered in sauce? I didn’t know from where this carb fest might magically appear. It propelled me though. It got me through.

Then as I circled the shelf in the little Blood Mountain Cabins store I saw one box of spaghetti and one jar of sauce. Boom!

It’s the little things.