Thursday, December 16, 2010

Narrows Picnic Ground to Forest Service Road 205A

View from the trail

10.4 miles (plus 1.5? miles off-trail, lost)

No fire tonight, which makes an astonishing difference in my mood. Instead I am curled up in my down sleeping bag and every ounce of clothing I am carrying, at probably six o'clock in the evening. The tarp is covered in ice. It rained all afternoon, and the rain has been freezing on the exterior walls.

It didn't actually rain, though. It snowed, most of the time, and as we walked into camp it warmed just enough so the snow melted and turned to rain, but stayed cold enough that the water froze as soon as it hit a surface. A surface like a rain jacket. So my rain jacket has a literal shell of sharp icy nuggets. And I'm sequestered for the night.

Camping dry again tonight, too, with no water source nearby, although this time I'm prepared. Each of us (Shadow included) is carrying a full three liters of water. There is a thirteen-mile dry spell over the next stretch of trail--no springs or creeks of any kind crossing our path--an dd then the next major landmark is a Citgo gas station, where I will buy food for the next week of hiking.

Plus, I got lost again this morning, wasting yet another good hiking hour of daylight, doodling around on another gravel road to nowhere, trying to find a blaze. That's the third time so far. Whoever designed the trail put about 100 blazes where they are least useful to anyone hiking (immediately before an intersection, for example, as opposed to after), and none where they are needed most (at a gravel road that splits in three directions, for instance). Can you tell the bloom is off the rose?

I know, from experience, that these cold, damp nights are exactly what long-distance hiking is all about. Perseverance, or consistency, or bullheadedness, or self-torture, or something. Why am I doing this journey again? I still can't quite answer that question. I'm doing it because I want to, because I choose to, but why exactly do I want numb fingers and a frozen abode? For the adventure of it, I suppose. But adventure is never as sexy in the actual living of it.

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