May 11. Frozen! We tried our new 45 degree sleeping bags last night and it got cold! I woke up in the middle of the night and put on just about every layer of clothing I have in order to stay warm. I didn’t get much sleep, the interesting news is that tonight may even be colder!
We hiked on for the day and I took the lead. I was on spider web patrol. When we hike early in the morning and no one else has been down the trail yet to clear away the spider webs from the night before it becomes our job. You get pretty used to hiking on with the feeling of spider webs all over your face, in your eyelashes, on your arms, and in your hair. You only stop to clean them off when you hit a big one, if you stopped everytime you hit any webs you’d never make it to Maine!
Along the way I noticed a small green inch worm hanging off the side of my shorts. I stopped to take him off and put him on a tree and when I pulled his body his legs hung on really tight and I broke him in half! I know…I felt bad too, but he shouldn’t have tried to hold on so hard!
We found some trail magic left at a road crossing from a group of school kids. We eventually caught up with more than 30 sixth graders out for a day hike. We hiked along in their line until their teacher noticed us and had all the kids stand off to the side and let us pass. We had lunch with the group at Bryant Ridge Shelter, one of the biggest and nicest shelters we have seen on the AT so far. As we ate our Slim Jims, trail mix, and protein bars the kids were pulling out apples, sandwiches, and snacks. Meat said “I wonder if any of them would want to trade lunches”. After lunch we heard one of the girls tell her teacher “We talked to the thru-hikers” and he said “And they talked back?” We had fun being around the group, they had a lot of energy and were enjoying the hike! One of the kids in the group had fallen and cut his knee pretty bad. They had him bandaged up and two teachers took turns carrying him, and he was a big kid! He didn’t look in that bad of shape to me and I think I would have just told him to walk it off…good thing I’m not a teacher! On a side note at one point during lunch the teacher told the kids to all put away their cell phones…since when does a 6th grader need a cell phone!?
For lunch today I tried the Kilimanjaro (Flosser) method to eating couscous, more like drinking my dinner. I poured it all in a water bottle and let it soak as I walked for an hour. When I stopped to take a break I tipped the bottle back and let gravity bring the couscous to me. Yum-Oh! It actually worked pretty well and may be in my meal plans in the future!
Random Trail Thought: If a rabbit’s foot is good luck for a human, what kind of foot is good luck for the rabbit?
We stopped at the next shelter for a break and I took a moment to use the privy. The privys on the trail are very diverse. Some are just a raised wooden platform with a white plastic toilet out in the open, very open. Others are actual outhouses, completely closed in with little airflow or light. I prefer them right in the middle…privacy but light and airy. The privy today was closed in but did have a lot of light due to a roof made of one big plastic skylight. The only problem was the swarm of flies the size of dimes and nickels. I was doing my business when a fly the size of a Canadian quarter flew straight up out of the hole and pelted me on the left side of my behind. It scared me so much that I jumped up, wondering what was down there! The fly must have been a little surprised too, it did a few circles and flew off and I sat back down, a little more cautious. One thing is for sure, everything is an experience on the trail, even using a privy.
It will probably be another cold night so I have my tent set up with the rain fly very close down to the ground to keep the breeze out. I have my emergency blanket under me and ready to pull over me like a blanket. Since I have a torso sleeping pad now my feet go on my backpack, but tonight I have it positioned so my feet can go in my backpack and I even put the rain cover on the pack for extra warmth. I am wearing all of my clothes except for my hiking shirt, a few pairs of socks, and my second pair of underwear. If it gets too cold I think I’ll just wake up and start hiking, but it should’t be that bad!
Drinking My Dinner