Three days in and I’m at Neal Gap. Now. This is roughly twice as far as I was planning to be at this point but I made some gross miscalculations during what will hitherto be labeled the “theoretical” portion of my hike.
Somebody really digs the color white. I get it, but I feel like a nice eggshell or winter butter is a little softer, and while less universal, is more versatile when using earth tones.
Firstly, I am still on a dairy farm schedule, which means I’ve been waking up at 5:30 every day ready to take on the world. Secondly, hiking 8 miles has been taking roughly 4 hours so we’re all rolling in at noon. Thirdly, bumming around in camp cannot occupy anyone for 9 hours with any genuine entertainment. Fourthly, I’m never going to get that premier “hiker stench” if I don’t get my butt in gear right from the get go. So I keep getting to where I was planning to stop by lunch and just kind of keep going.
Blood Mountain Shelter. Part of today’s 17-ish miles. Beautiful. Old. And a bit like a basement on top of a mountain. You need to have bear cans to stay here. I don’t, so I didn’t.
All that to say armchair through hiking, while enjoyable and more shower-filled, wasn’t wildly helpful. On the plus side; I get to eat three days worth of food tomorrow.
In summary: the human body is flipping sweet and trekking poles are a gift from god.
I feel great! I’m tired, reasonably sore, but nothing is saying “hey, this is genuine pain.” It’s more, “hey, whose idea was this and why didn’t we consult your calves for a second opinion?”
In other news I successfully executed my first snot-rocket! For the un-initiated, this is when you get a good wad of boogers all up in a nostril and instead of using a tissue or bandana like a real human being you just force a bunch of air out of one nostril, thereby ejecting said phlegm with no following cleanup. This has been something I have struggled with for years. My father had this skill down to a science and my sister had this casual method during runs where you don’t even realize it’s happened until you see here take off faster than before, sinuses free and clear. Traditionally, my feeble snot-rockets leave a lot to be desired. They also leave a lot just kind of hanging off my chin. But not today! Today a beautiful emission of brain gold took place. Twice.
Not a snot-rocket. But almost as good.
I’m also slowly developing a Pavlovian response every time I pull out my trowel. Good news, but this could become an issue should other people’s trowels begin to illicit similar urges.
People out here are so stinking supportive! I think most of us realize that few of us are experts and we’re all trying to do and get the same thing. You are constantly leap-frogging the same dozen or so people so you get to regularly check in with the hikers around you. We’ll see how jaded and surly we all get after the initial honeymoon phase wears off, but so far this is a wonderful crowd to hike with.
So far so good! Check out the Instagram (@forgetthetp) for a few other photos and I’ll see y’all back here the next time I can grab some free Wi-Fi.
Bonus photo. Neel Gap. An outdoor goody Mecca. A gear junky’s Shangri La. A veritable smorgasbord of sil-nylon, cuban fiber, dyneema line, and aircraft-grade aluminum.