06-19-2018. Day 105. 15.1 miles. Chestnut Knob Shelter to Laurel Creek. (584.3 + 8.8 = 593.1 Miles)

How a Thru Hiker Spends His Time

Sleep was deep and long. Having your tent set up in a grassy field felt like you were on a soft mattress. I knew that the wind was picking up but it didn’t concern me until I thought that it may tear my rain fly. In spite of that concern I quickly fell asleep. The next morning I awoke to find the wind gone and the air filled with the sound of multiple birds. Multiple very loud birds. I got up and went into the shelter in order to retrieve my food bag. Graffiti is one avenue of hiker entertainment. More than likely this was drawn on a cold night in the unheated building. It’s on the section of the interior wall where the fireplace once stood.

There’s a Mouse in the House: Not Really

Every AT shelter has mice and this one was no exception. I’m not sure that I would have had the patience to lie on that floor long enough to create that. Actually I don’t have the creative talent to draw a stick figure so it wouldn’t matter. The artistic talent in my family belongs to my youngest son Tory and my Dad.

The Whatever For plunger.

One of the joys of sleeping near a shelter is the existence of a privy. Always elevated they normally face (thankfully) away from the shelter. Someone here displayed their sense of humor by providing a toilet plunger. I must admit when I first began this hike I often found myself reaching for a flush handle. Those don’t exist and neither do hand washing facilities…….. thus the tradition of a fist bump when greeting anyone…. no handshake with these hands. So a fist bump isn’t being cool….. it’s somewhat being clean between each other.

How Can You Not want to Sit on this here rock.

It wasn’t long before my legs were burning beyond belief . As a matter of fact my entire body was aching. This was a 15 mile day so I needed to keep going but every rock that looked like this beckoned me to sit upon it for a moment. The heat was intense and there would be no water until I reached the 15 mile point . At a Forest Service Road I stopped at one of those rocks and had lunch. Orlando caught up with me and told me that she was out of water. We were only five miles into the hike. “I need a Coke. There is a hostel a mile and a half down there. Go with me to get a Coke”, she asked. I didn’t want to offend her but there was no way I’d do that . She needs water but wants a Coke? That’s three miles out of the way that could put me at the 8 mile point. I respectfully declined her offer telling her I needed to attempt to keep up with Hawkeye because we were planning a Nero. “Ah you’re one of the guys thing”, she replied. If she meant that I’m one of those who can stand up when reliving myself she was exactly right….. otherwise I had no clue what she was talking about. We went our separate ways.

Fire Ant From the United Kingdom

Not long later I met Fire Ant from the United Kingdom. I’m not sure why she just didn’t say England. She was hiking from Harpers Ferry to Springer SOBO. “It’s been bloody uphill all the way from Harpers Ferry!” Ha!!! She hadn’t seen anything yet . Just wait until she got into the real mountains ahead! Hawkeye later told me that she was carrying a steel knife and made cucumber and onion sandwiches with mayonnaise for her meals. That’s a lot of weight. She told me that she had finally found a good American Hamburger two days ago at Brushy Creek Outpost. I put that on my “to do ” list. Hamburger: two days ahead.

Scrounging For Water

The 15.1 miles were forever with no end to the ups and downs. I found myself pulling up the hills with my hiking poles further exhausting my upper body. I was rationing my water just to get my mouth and throat relief. My legs began cramping but there was no kidney pain…….yet. At one point I remembered two small oranges I had taken from Quarter Way Hostel. They were tucked away in a side pouch on my pack. I stopped and slowly sucked the juice out of both. They were a gift……and needed…. and a blessing.

At the 12 mile marker I noticed that several people had walked off of trail and down into a ravine. My legs screamed no but the thought that this might be a water source that still existed drove me off trail. After a moment I saw it. A spring directly from the ground. I threw my pack off and laid on the ground next to the source. For thirty minutes I scooped water with my mug and drank. Then I filled my water drinking bladder. When I finished I rolled over between two rocks a fell asleep.

About 20 minutes later I awoke, brushed off the leaves, put my pack on, and hiked down the final three miles to Laurel Creek. About a quarter mile out I could hear children playing. A wilderness campground ahead with access to those who wanted to camp or play in the river.

Gone was the aching in my legs. Dehydration had definitely been in the works but the spring had been timely and the nap wasn’t bad either. I found Hawkeye lounging in camp. He had been sitting on the river bank for an hour and then began writing in his log. I struggled to put up my tent and hang my food. There was no doubt that I would sleep well this night. I was too tired to hike on.

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