Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Rambling Update ...
Hello from the Appalachian Trail! I hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend and that your shortened work week is going well!!!
Today, Wednesday, June 2nd, I find myself just outside of Perisburg, VA at the Wood's Hole Hiker Hostel. Ahhh... what a wonderful respite from the trail! I arrived yesterday afternoon, soaked to the bone, from an unexpected downpour. Normally the clouds, wind or distant thunder will give me a heads up that I'm about to take a Nature Shower but yesterday the skies simply opened up, without warning, and poured down. By the time I'd put my pack cover on and dawned my poncho, I was completely wet. No worries though, since I was only a couple of miles from one of the best hiker hostels on the AT! I truly can't say enough good things about Wood's Hole! The proprietors, Neville Harris and Michale Lasecki, are truly outstanding people. They've created a welcoming and peaceful environment for both people and pets. This is undoubtedly the BEST hostel I've visited to date and will be sad to leave.
This morning, following a wonderful breakfast of organic french toast and free range eggs, we welcomed the day with a yoga session. There's something special about completing a yoga set while deeply breathing fresh mountain air and listening to birds chirping in the trees.
Neville and Michael are both certified massage therapists. In speaking with two of my friends who enjoyed a couples massage ... they're quite good at what they do.
There's a lovely garden, which yields herbs and vegetables used in the daily meals (which are served family style). When I sat down for dinner last night a fellow hiker said, "If you go away from this table hungry ... it's your own darn fault." No truer words have been spoken. The food is not only delicious but it's plentiful. The hikers who stay here help with the chores. Last night I assisted with preparing and cleaning up dinner. This morning I've swept the bunk house and refilled the humming bird feeders. It's such a great place that pitching in doesn't even feel like work ... but more of a privilege to be a part of something so good. I'll be sad to hike out tomorrow but the journey must go on...
I've been out of cell service lately, mostly due to the fact that I've been hiking between 1,500 and 3,500 feet. There are taller mountains around me that, I'm assuming, block my wonderful Verizon phone.
So, I've had some amazing experiences lately... the first was more scary than amazing ... but it was still educational. This "California girl" got her first real taste of East Coast humidity and the affects it can have on one's body. About five days ago I was pulling a 12 mile day. The ridge I was on was dry, the sun was hot and the humidity was stiffening. I started the day carrying four liters (8 pounds) of water. Knowing that the mountain I was climbing was void of water sources I tried to conserve ... but the heat and humidity were overwhelming. I sucked down all four liters before reaching the top of the mountain. Mistake number two that day was skipping lunch. Without food and water my body soon revolted and my mental strength vanished. My feet hurt, my throat was parched and all I wanted to do was quit. If I could have climbed on a helicopter and flown off of that mountain ... I would have. When I finally reached the mountaintop shelter (Chestnut Shelter to be exact) I found that it too was "dry" and without a water source. Discouraged, I entered the shelter only to find six other people in the same predicament as myself. I was also told that three of my hiking friends (Halfmoon, Koopa and her husband - whose name is escaping me) pushed on, just before I arrived, as they too were in search of water. Ironically, it started to storm. The thunder and lightening were amazing and I shot a short video on my cell phone's camera in order to record nature's power. I, along with everyone else, placed my cook pot outside the shelter and waited for the impending rain storm. It arrived, with a vengeance, but did little to fill the scattered pots and cups. I collected a mouthful of rainwater in my pot, which allowed me to down two Advil so I could push on with my aching feet. While waiting out the storm I ate some tuna from a pouch and other items that didn't require re hydration. The fuel gave me the energy I needed to almost fly down the mountain to the next water source, which luckily I arrived to just prior to the second wave of rain. I drank liberally from a murky water hole after treating it, with my drops, for the minimum required period of time. Setting my tent up, almost in the dark, I was happy to say farewell to that day.
The following day I experienced another storm; inclusive of quarter sized hail ... which hurt like the dickens! Two massive storm fronts converged directly over me, Koopa, Koopa's husband, Birdie and a 19 year old novice section hiker who got separated from his group. All of us ended up in the "lightening position" after ditching our packs, poles and anything else which might attract lightening. After getting completely soaked, pelted with ice chunks and cowering from lightening, which was striking all around us ... we survived and made it into Bland, VA where we enjoyed overpriced showers at a local motel.
So, I'm getting kicked off of the computer (I'm over my time limit) so just one more thing to add. The Appalachian Trail diet is working! I stepped on the scale last evening and I've lost 31 pounds!!! Whoo hooo!!!
As soon as I get some cell phone service I'll try to post pics of this hostel. It really is a great place. I wish you could all enjoy the peace and serenity here!!! Go find your own little slice of heaven ... they're out there ... sometimes you just have to get off the trail to find them.
Wishing you all the very best,