Monday, December 13, 2010

Snake Creek Gap to Keown Falls

Sunset on the trail

6.6 miles on trail (plus 8? miles of lost walking for a total of about 15)

Today was another horrible day of being lost. One intersection at a gravel road I came to a full five times, the fifth time in a car, hitching back the way I had come two of the previous four times, because even on the fifth time in a car, I couldn't figure out which direction to go. It is more frustrating than I have words to recount. No matter how many times I tell myself: it's okay! Relax! You're just out here for a good time, for an adventure! it is not okay. Every step that is not on the actual trail itself, not for some larger purpose, however arbitrary, is miserable.

I'd say I walked at least fifteen miles today, maybe more, and on the food I'd planned for seven. Daylight is going really fast, and it's just getting faster--the solstice is just around the corner. I don't feel like I'm making any real progress towards my destination, especially when I'm spending more time wandering around lost than I am on the trail. As much as I know it doesn't matter (except in terms of the timeframe I'd planned for my trip), it still stings.

At least I finally made it back to the actual trail to camp. Shadow hitched us a ride, by stopping in the middle of a dirt road and not getting out of the way until a driver stopped and complimented him on what a pretty dog he is. The driver and his companions--three good-hearted Southern hillbillies, driving around forest-service roads with a case of Keystone Light--knew exactly where we needed to go and were willing to take us there. Praise be the Lord and American brewing establishments.

The crazy thing was that they had a thermometer in the car. (A thermometer is another of those things an ultra-lighter deigns not to carry.) So we've been guessing at temperatures out here, and going by the forecast. But his gauge read 21 degrees! And it was cold today, but not nearly as cold as I've seen it. Not water freezing while my back is turned cold. Which means I'd guess that I've already seen single digits out here. Just as meaningless as walking eight miles off trail? Perhaps. But it feels like it means a hell of a lot more.

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