Appalachian Trail Mile 153.0; Brown Fork Gap (water!)

Oh. What a day. What a very long day. I sit here on my sleeping mat just to the left of the trail, opposite the blue blazed tree signifying water. It is 11:13 pm. I am cowboy camping. Hanging out with the bugs. Loads of them. They like the glow of my headlamp.

I tracked down my package this morning. Turns out the outfitter had it all along. A problem with the label was all. It simply said: please hold for thru-hiker “B”. I got it. That’s all that counts.

I started very late, however–around 11:30 this morning. The climb was difficult, the sun hot, and the air moist. I was perspiring to say the least.

As I was hiking I heard a chirping noise. Then noticed a very tiny creature on trail.

It looks like it could be a mouse, but I believe it to be a baby squirrel. I found one exactly like it — after its supposed fall from an apple tree — on Orcas Island, WA a couple of years back. I fed it sugar water and contacted a local animal rehabilitation group who came to collect it and see to its health and future well being. Though heartbreaking, there was nothing I could do for this little one. I scooped it up with two pieces of tree bark and set it to the side of the trail, hoping its mother will come back for it. Here’s hoping.

The first water source was four miles out. It was beautiful. Small rivulets of water free falling from the outcroppings of stone and moss. It tasted divine.

I drank one liter and a half and took one liter to go. The next water was only in six miles.

After the continued climbing and profuse sweating I developed, well, a chafing problem. This problem only became worse with each step. I decided I would allow myself to stop at the coming water source and set up camp for the night. It was passed 6 pm anyhow. I could make up the miles tomorrow. “Good evening” a man stated as he heard me coming up the trail. There were three of them. Two perched on logs and one swaying in a hammock. “Hi”, I mustered, all the while minimizing eye contact. I was not feeling social. The next water was in just 2.5 miles. I told myself I could manage and pressed on. The source was listed as being .3 miles off of the trail. I could not find it. I backed tracked and moved forward once more. Still, nothing. It was approaching 9 pm. The next water was in another¬†2.5 miles. A blue blazed trail, this time. I couldn’t miss it. I drank the last of my liter. I had no choice but to keep going. A half of a mile in to it I ran in to Jo and Sean who had set up camp. They offered me two cups of water. I was so grateful. It was a climb. Truly, a climb. All I could think of was water. An all consuming lust for water. My lips felt like they were shriveled like dried fruit, my tongue was parched. It was difficult to swallow. Though, one does tend to get dramatic when thirsty and waterless, I knew all would be fine…as long as I could find the source. Each step was so slow. I stopped many times. Just standing there, bent over my poles for 10 seconds reprieve. At last I came to a tree with a blue blaze. Oh, thank goodness!

I dropped my pack to the left of the trail and headed down the side trail carrying a nalgene, a smart water bottle, and my two liter bladder–collecting four liters in total. The spring was flowing well. I was not pleased with it otherwise. ¬†I determined it best to end my filterless streak at this source.

The hike itself was beautiful. Especially in the section of the illusive water source, near Stecoah Gap.

What an unusually dry stretch! I’m glad I am settled and watered.

I hear a tree creaking in the wind.

I just spotted an uncomfortably large spider on my sleeping bag (poisonous?). I made my bag do the wave, launching him off. I do hope he does not care to return.

My noodles are probably ready for consumption.

Until next time.

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