Rain, Snow, Ice

It's official: I've been hiking the Appalachian Trail for one month. This has been the most rewarding experience of my life and a huge step towards transitioning my daily motivations from comfort to necessity. It has also been at times cold, painful, and mentally fatiguing. However, as John Muir wrote, "The mountains are calling and I most go..."

"Oh no! I just stepped in the big one!" Good Wood said as his crocs sank deep into the slimy, black mud. We were all changing into drier clothes in the shelter of a shelter after getting drenched in the high-wind powered sideways rain on top of Max Patch bald and while the rain had let up briefly, the mud was still as thick and goopy as ever. Our fingers and toes were numb with cold and the wet hiking shoes and socks were some of the first things to get swapped for camp shoes like crocs or flip flops. We had hiked most of the day in the frigid rain and biting wind and even off the bald where the wind wasn't quite so bad we still had ginormous mud puddles to cross and wet branches to slap us in the face. All in all a pretty awesome day. I love hiking in the rain.

We got a fire going with just a lighter and a tiny bit of trash paper because we're awesome like that. Soon enough the sun came back out and we got an hour's reprieve from the sky water before it started back up again just as fierce as before. We crammed into the shelter like sardines in a can and went to sleep as the temperature began to plummet. The next morning we woke to snow falling and cold noses (those of us who sleep with our faces outside our sleeping bags). The best part of the morning (he says sarcastically) is putting your nearly ice cold and sopping wet socks and shoes back on so you could make it up the hill to the privy for your morning sit-on-a-cold-seat-and-lose-weight chore. Then back down the hill to retrieve your food bag from the bear cables so you could eat 1200 calories worth of assorted pastries. Finally, with fingers so cold you couldn't even pull the zipper on your rain pants closed, you got to pack everything up and try to get a move on before you froze to your seat.

As we hiked up the mountain (for some reason, most shelters are built in gaps so the first thing you do is climb a mountain to get out of the gap) we encountered entire hillsides covered in tiny white flowers between the trees. The light dusting of snow soon began melting off but along the ridge were a bunch of trees coated in ice just waving in the wind and dropping ice chunks on us. I hiked mostly alone that day although Groove did keep me company for parts of it. We reached the shelter soon enough - it was "only" a 14.6 mile day. We expected a clear but cold night so some of our group set up tents. The next morning I opened my tent door and found that two of our friends who had gotten stuck several miles behind us due to the weather had managed to catch up by night hiking a bit. They had arrived not too long after everyone else had fallen asleep. On that joyous note we ate breakfast, packed our bags, and headed in to Hot Springs, NC to resupply. Cheers!

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