Appalachian Trail Mile 314.3

Saturday, May 27, 2017 (Day 24)

I did not sleep all that well last night. The campsite I was near was large with a water source. There were late arrivals. I was camped off of a side trail, so I could only see the glow of their headlamps in the distance. It was mesmirizing. It made me think of lightning bugs. I thought there were lightning bugs out here. I remember seeing them when visiting my aunt and uncle in North Carolina long ago.

It was not just the headlamps that challenged sound sleep. Multiple times in the night I felt something crawl over the top of my head. Each time I shot up quickly with a gasp. I put my hand to my head, looked around, and found nothing. The third time, I was quick enough. I saw the little thing. A mouse had been crawling over my head in the night. I was using my food bag as a pillow. It was hungry. I was not willing to share.

The trail was very rocky today. Lots of ridgeline scrambling.

As I came to a water source to have lunch, a fellow hiker passed by and warned me that it may rain in an hour. He then collected water and shot off in a hurry to the next shelter. I sat back and boiled water for my afternoon cup of coffee. That’s nice and all, I thought. But if the rain comes, the rain comes. I did not feel like running to a shelter.  If anything, no better time to take a break than just before the rainfall. The rain did not come.

I continued on my way, passing the shelter. The trail began to climb. At one point I missed a switchback and began climbing up a rocky pathway of what was surely a stream in wetter months. It was not until it became truly rugged that I decided it was definitely not the AT and turned back. The footprints were more visible when descending. I was clearly not the first hiker to do this.

As night was nearing I longed for a nice campsite. It was just after 7pm. I told myself that I could set up at the next good site I saw. I passed two sites — both with inhabitants. I was getting desperate. It was getting later and my body was growing tired. The trail was on a ridgeline, then dropped into forest, then back up again. After passing yet another occupied site and feeling disheartened… I spotted a bear! Oh, how lovely! I tried to continue up the trail unnoticed, hoping for a better glimpse. Twigs broke beneath my boots and he was alerted  of my presense. It ran off quickly. It was far more afraid than the previous bear I had seen.

Spirits lifted from the sighting, I continued on for about .5 a mile before finding a nice vacant campsite nestled in the woods. A lovely home for the night.

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