Birthday on the trail. Sort of.
So apparently today is my birthday. I hadn’t realised this until last night. My plan to test my arm out today has changed to doing it tomorrow because I don’t want to quit on my birthday.
Halfway through the day I went into the hotel office to get some food and give over some laundry and found Don sitting around with some other hikers. He was in good shape and it was good to see him. He was taking a zero to go through his pack and lighten it up. He tried on my down jacket as he was worried he didn’t have an insulation layer and the next few days are forecast to get below zero. I told him Mountain Crossings sold several and later that day he would indeed return with a nice Montbell jacket. He also aent home 11lb of equipment bringing him right down into the magic 30′s. I am confident he will go as far as his time here allows.
Another lazy day for me, just doing exercise and stretches on the dirty floor, only wearing rain pants and my own down jacket since most everything else was in the laundry. I did read this hilarious entry in the cabin guest book that needs to be shared:
I had thought my cabin was unheated except for a chargeable log fire so was content to huddle under a blanket when on the couch or in bed at night. Turns out I was wrong…
Don (Yogi Bear) had teamed up with a robust Estonian woman, Mary, and an athletic recent retiree Kelly (White Hawk) to hike together and they were now rooming together. They kindly invited me over for a birthday dinner of pizza and beer at which point I found out that the room temperature of 56f (13c) that I had been enduring for nearly 2 days was unnecessary since there is a thermostat on the wall right by the couch! To much hilarity I went right over to my cabin and switched it to 70f. Bliss. If I didn’t already have a trail name then this would earned one of some sort. Chilly perhaps. Or idiot.
I have kind of decided that, unless my arm is really bad with an almost-empty pack on tomorrow then I am going to at least ‘slack pack’ from Gooch Gap back to Neel Gap. That might be tomorrow (16th) or the next day. That means booking the cabin for 1 or 2 more nights, putting just water, rain gear, head lamp, first aid and 1 day of snacks in the pack, getting a shuttle to Gooch Gap and high tailing it the 14.5 miles back here. It’s a really tough day with a couple of big climbs in there including 4461 foot Blood Mountain but if I got an early enough shuttle then it is do-able. Most of that stretch is mandatory bear canister territory if you camp due to high incidents with ‘bear-human interactions’ so camping isn’t really an option anyway.
That way I at least do the opening stretch of the AT and earned my way to Neel Gap. Hanging out here the last 2 days with thru-hikers I have felt like a fraud.