Day 35 – the forest tries to kill me

I was woken by rain at 2am and it rained solidly until I wrote this before bed. During this the forest tried to drop several chunks of itself on me.

Two of the most hated aspects of tenting are packing your tent up in the rain and setting your tent up in the rain. I had to do both today as it had rained – and blown hard – all night leaving my tent covered in leaves and bits of forest debris. I packed up everything else whilst still inside and then packed up the tent while wearing my rain gear. It was tricky getting the bear bag down because the larks head knot in the wet cord just wouldn’t budge. But eventually it did or I would still be there.

Within 0.8m the trail passed directly by the actual graves of a child and two Union soldiers killed here when making the mistake of returning to visit family. I have no idea how the graves are so well tended to this day. There is plenty of tenting spots right here too. All very odd.

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I passed by the biggest cluster of these I’ve seen so far. Usually there’s only one or two together. Anyone who knows what they do let me know in the comments. Ta.

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It rained for all but 1 hour today, sometimes heavily but usually steadily or just drizzle. It was cold enough today that you had to keep moving to stay warm, once you stopped you started to shiver. Even now in my sleeping bag I’m still pretty cold.

Here is a typical view from today:

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Around midday the forest launched a full scale attack on my person. First up, about 40 yards away I saw a very large limb fall bringing two more pretty respectable branches down with it. That was the sighted. Second, I heard a huge crack just to my left and way above my head (trees here are upwards of 50′) and something large fell a short distance and stopped (by a bigger limb or branches I imagine). It was so close I instinctively stopped, braced my body and raised my arms. Never did see what it was though.

And now the forest had me clean in its sights the third and final assault. During a long uphill I turned to point my feet and ankle downhill and watched a 4′ chunk of dead tree fall 3 yards behind me and explode over a wide area. If that was 2 seconds earlier I would have been knocked out at least.

At one point today the trail crossed under a highway before resuming the woods walking. It’s always a bit surreal when it happens.

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For lunch today I stopped by the Hogback Ridge shelter. For the first time I wanted a hot meal and when I got there I met Chainsaw who had set up an efficient little fire right inside the shelter itself in an attempt to keep warm and dry gear. I stayed for 75 minutes and as I was packing up Twinkle Toes, Sas and Gizmo arrived to end their day. I still had 6 more miles on my agenda as I wanted to get to Erwin tomorrow night, avoid a freezing night and clean my gear.

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After a 10.5 hour day of hiking alone in the cold rain you can imagine how happy I was to see this little campsite at 6:30.

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And it really is annoying tenting in the rain – water and mud and leaves inevitable get everywhere and you can’t get dry, clean and warm. Even now, an hour after getting into my bag with all my dry clothes on I am still chilly. Ah well, if I can do 20.4 miles and get a ride then I’ll be snug and warm in the Super 8 motel this time tomorrow!

4 thoughts on “Day 35 – the forest tries to kill me

      1. Kicking them shouldn’t hurt you, unless you miss and hit a root or rock. The native americans used it to treat menopause. Good luck on you hike. I am heading to VA next week for another section hike south of Rock Fish Gap. Maybe I will see you out there.

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