Day mileage: 14.8 mi
AT total mileage: 24.3 mi
Time: 8 hours
Today, my friends, was a good day. Despite the fact that we woke up to some crazy winds, Bill and I struck camp and had a quick breakfast before hitting the trail. I ate a bagel with peanut butter, and drank a liter of water which also washed down 800mgs of Ibuprofen and a generic multi-vitamin. Also before we get too far along, for whatever it's worth, shitting in the woods is an understated art.
Right before we parted ways from our gusty camp site, Kevin (from Day 1's summit of Springer) happened upon us and joined us for our hike. Kevin's about 25. It only took a mile or so for it to become evident that Kevin and I hiked at a similar pace, and before long we had left Bill behind. YES this makes me feel guilty, and YES I'll have to get over it. I'm not going to make it to Maine by waiting for everyone I like. The good news? I got a good photo of Bill and myself before we left the campsite (on the dSLR) so he will live on in infamy. I'm sure he'll do great once he loses a few pounds of pack weight. Good guy regardless, as most Maine residents I've met are. Regardless, Kevin and I clicked and kept on trucking.
I'll now introduce a theme that will be present from here on out....
Conversations with Hiking Strangers 101:
- Breaking Bad
- Previous Jobs
- Tinder (Google it, then don't be quick to judge- this is in fact the 21st century, being led by a very tech-reliant and introverted generation).
We stopped for lunch after a few easy miles at a place called Gooch Gap Shelter... The first shelter I've seen this far as apparently I spend too much time watching where my feet will go to notice these camouflage buildings. Nonetheless there it was in all of its glory. We signed the guest book, and ate lunch with a few other guys. One was a 32 y/o Army Medic, the rest were older. One gentleman, Trail Name: Roadrunner, was starting his 5th thru-hike attempt. Turns out every time he gets to NY state, someone in his family gets sick. If it were me I'd start up again back in New York, but then again what do I know. I had some cheese on a tortilla shell with pepperoni for lunch, with a bite of a Snickers bar that I broke up and munched on all day. Keeping at our pace we made it to Woody Gap around 3, with the intention of making it to just before Jarrard's Gap before calling it a day. There is a mandate for a 'bear canister' or a large break/scent/bear proof box to store your food in for a 7 mile stretch between Jarrard's and Neel's Gap due to increased bear activity. By stopping just shy of the aforementioned Gap we will be able to quickly pass through tomorrow without needing to buy/carry the 4-5lb canister.
At about 5 PM we rolled into camp after a very long and strenuous downhill (sounds like an oxymoron, downhill is easy right? Except 3 miles or so of it that works very weird muscles and gets rather uncomfortable after a while). There are almost a dozen tents pitched here, including a few men from Germany, and a great group of American hikers between the ages of 20-55 who Kevin and I joined by a campfire after we ate. I had 4 packets of cinnamon & brown sugar oatmeal. Dinner of champions, right? It was perfect in that it required almost no water and not even a boil (I used pre-filtered water) and filled me up. Also had 16oz of lemonade from a powder packet I brought a dozen or so of. I drank about 6 liters of water today, and am doing well at staying hydrated. Finding and filtering water is not as infrequent as I'd imagined. I keep 3 liters of water with me at a time, then chug a liter at the next water source. Easier to carry it in me that on my back. I also took a minute tonight to attempt a partial 'bathe' with my biodegradable soap and stream water. Now instead of just sweat, I smell like peppermint sweat.. And the water was about 55 degrees. Awesome.
Tonight's campfire attendees included two early-20s couples, Hustle & Flow from SC, Tolin & Alin from New Jersey, Woodsgirl (high school counselor) from Seattle, Mudman (previous thru hiker) from Canada, Nick from Illinois, and Just Kyle/Ashley who are both previous REI employees who got frustrated with the corporate restructuring and decided now was the time to hike.. Great conversations, good laughs (I'm quite the comedian, apparently? Who knew...) and we doused the fire at 8:30 once the sun was set and temps started dropping.
All in all, Day 2 was a success. I've not yet decided what tomorrow's mileage will be, but I'm pleased with how far we made it today.
Pics: River Crossing at Justus Creek, Gooch Gap Shelter, & me at an unnamed 3,434' elevation vista around mile 22 (just after Woody Gap)