Appalachian Trail Mile 1278.3

Wednesday, August 2, 2017 (Day 91)

In those last moments before rising, I hear a rustle. I open my eyes without moving my body. Directly in front of my face I  see a tiny rabbit. It glances at me, pauses, and hops ever so lightheartedly, so magically in to the grassy distance.

Oh, good morning world!

I face the consequence of my reckless thirst this morning. Not giving care to what today may hold, I drank and drank and soaked couscous last night. My thirst seemed insatiable. Now, with a mere fraction of a liter left, I regret my decision.

There is a spring in 5 miles that is .5 downhill. That is an entire mile round trip. That is terribly unappealing. There are two road crossing before then. Oh, how I hope some kind being places water at the crossings!

I came to Little Gap Road. There were a handful of plastic water bottles on a log. I drank one and a half and poured the remaining half in my nalgene. I felt a bit greedy…but I was so thirsty.  There would still be some for the hikers behind me. Relieved, I pressed on.

I chose to skip the spring. I just could not bring myself to travel a mile out of my way.

I came to Smith Gap Road. There was a lady in a silvery SUV, parked there, fiddling with something in the trunk. I smiled and continued. I read a sign about water a mile down the road at “Mechanical Man’s” house. You can get free water from a tap there and stay in his garage and shower for $10. It was so far out of the way, though! I turned back around and approached the car. “Excuse me. I hate to bother you, but do you happen to have any water?” The lady was very kind. She had a gallon jug. She filled up my nalgene and I drank as she told me that her son was a thru-hiker. He was southbound and she was meeting him there. She insisted on filling my nalgene once more before I left.

I hiked on, hydrated.

Fantastical, fuzzy creatures danced, suspended in mid air by silky threads.

It was terribly sticky and humid. The air hung as a tangible object, a thick, heavy weight. I have begun to recognize this as a sign of coming rain. I hoped it would be as yesterday: light afternoon drizzles followed by an evening of clear skies.

There were powerful claps of thunder and bursts of lightning! I glanced down to notice that my headlamp, which I always wear around my neck, was open. The rechargeable batteries had fallen out. Oh, no! I decided to retrace my steps and look for them. I began hiking South. The rain came. It grew stronger. I dropped my pack, propping it up against a tree, and continued on. Torrents fell from the sky! I saw nothing amongst the dirt and rocks and roots, save more dirt and rocks and roots. I tried to move quickly amongst the slippery stones and sinking mud whilst still thoroughly scanning the trail. I picked a random tree in the distance — after passing that tree, I thought, I will turn back. I would pass that tree and then pick another. A dangerous game. I would continue on forever at this rate. My clothes were dripping wet. I crossed paths with a fellow northbounder, with whom I was familiar. “Have you seen any batteries on trail?” I asked, with a sense of urgent hopefullness. He said he had, but only one, and that it was at least a mile back. I sighed. It was not worth it for just one, that far back, that I may not even find. I hurried back to my pack. There was a shelter not far up the trail, where I could duck for cover for a moment.

I sat in the shelter. I was cold. So very cold. So very wet. So very happy. I longed for the heat my stove once provided, as I ate a lunch of cold potatoes. I decided I would stop in at the town of Wind Gap to get some batteries. The town was only about four miles out, and not far off trail.

I reached the town not long before it would slip in to the veil of night. It was a relatively decent trek to the grocery store, but it was very well stocked, and open 24 hours. I procured batteries and a light resupply and charged my things. It was late when I headed back to the trail, 11 pm or so. I only made it half way up the hill before finding a flat spot just off the trail, and calling it a night. I slept beneath the trees and night-sky; a sky pleasantly free of rain, and speckled with dashes of whimsical starlight.

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