Day 34 (Relived a year later)

Day 34: Friday, June 3rd 2016

I toss and turn most of the night but still manage to get some good sleep. At 3:44am I hear voices. Some people do hike at night apparently. Crazies. I hear them say they see something… it’s my bear canister. A minute later, one guy says “It’s a bear canister.” Thankfully they keep on walking and I’m able to go back to sleep.

Overcast and early, I’m awake at 6:18am and take some morning pictures on the mountain. It’s lovely! After eating, changing, and packing up camp, I walk. It’s already a little sunny by 7:40am when I’m making my way towards the Chimney’s.
My first goal for the day is to summit past The Chimney’s before lunch, which is 5 miles. As I walk I pass by frogs and a large black and blue snake. The snakes are getting bigger, awesome. Because it rained last night, everything is wet. 

There are tons of low bushes and even a few high ones. I become wet but it’s a nice feeling, it’s cool and there’s a breeze so it almost gives me chills. I’m not complaining. Before my first hour hiking, I’m dripping wet, as if I ran through the sprinkler on a hot summer day in my clothes. I decide not to change my socks yet, no need. The water from the low bushes and plants seep into my shoes and will just keep doing that until everything dries more. I pass by the other campsites, none with water, although there is supposed to be a water tree up here somewhere. I decide not to worry about finding it, I still have plenty. At one of the campsites I see a tent and a hammock and no people. I shout a quick “Hello!” to the guys inside, I’m assuming they’re the ones from earlier this morning. I don’t stop, no need.
Sometimes, I walk in the shade along the trail while other times it’s all out in the open with the sun beating down on me. Much different than yesterday’s hike up Shortoff. I’m grateful for the tiny bits of shade when they’re available. By 10:50am I stop to change socks and check my black toenail. It’s only half black now. The other half is more white, it’ slowing coming away from my toe… great! I smile as I try not to gross myself out about the fact that my one pretty toe nail is slowing trying to escape my toe completely. It still doesn’t hurt too much or give me any trouble so I’m counting my blessings about that. I make my way up the summit of the Chimney’s right before noon. I’m proud of myself, first goal, successful! I take some pictures and then sit to rest, journal and have some water. As I look around I realize that I’m at the base of the summit, not the summit itself. It’s heaven up here but I need to keep going. On the trek, I remember the trail guide saying that it’s strenuous. What it should’ve read is “Damn near impossible to not stop every ten seconds to check out the scenery, oh and it’s a tough mountain to get up.” 

There are tons of thorny bushes that scratch my legs along the way. To keep myself entertained I first sing “Crazy Bitch” by Buckcherry. I saw them in concert once with my friend, Travis. I really just repeat “Scratches all down my back to keep me right on” and “You’re a crazy bitch But you fuck so good, I’m on top of it.” That gets boring quick and then I sing the only other song I can think of, “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock N’ Roll)” by AC/DC. Mainly just this bit plays on a loop in my head:
I tell you folks
It’s harder that it looks
It’s a long way to the top if you want to rock ‘n’ roll
It’s a long way to the top if you want to rock ‘n’ roll
Followed by about 100 more: It’s a long way to the top if you want to rock ‘n’ rolls.

When I finally make my way over and up the Chimneys I’m stunned by just how beautiful the sights are. I take more pictures and pass by several mountain climbers and a few are over a cliff a bit above me so I say “Hello!” as I pass by under them. “Beautiful day” says one guy. I reply with “Yes, it sure is! Plus, you’ve got the breeze up there.”
I make it .3 miles to the top, I got water, a nice breeze and suddenly the urge to yell as loud as I can. The first thing I yell is “Woohoo! Pocahontas Breeze!” followed by “Hikers and Climbers go both ways!” Bahaha, I laugh so hard at myself, again. I’m a little crazy once again when I get up this high. Mostly because I’m proud of myself for doing something that seems almost impossible and also because theres only a few people around to care. Not that I do.

After I eat an apple and drink some water I go down to get off the mountain that I just got up. I notice that I chugged more water than I anticipated yesterday due to the heat of the day, so I make a mental note to be cautious of the ounces I have left. It’s a few more miles until the next creek. 

As I walk I go through a few tight spots between rocks and so I automatically think of O Brother, Where Art Thou? And say out loud “Damn, we’re in a tight spot” and giggle. When I do it causes me to not pay as much attention to what I’m doing and I almost become nervous that I’ll get stuck in between them. I shake that thought away quickly and then I begin thinking about how much my Dad enjoys that movie. He’d laugh and laugh watching that movie when I was growing up. Then I think about my brother and two of his childhood friends who did a lip-syncing routine to I Am A Man of Constant Sorrow at a school talent show when they were in Elementary School. It was such a hit and all the tiny elementary school girls loved it, some moms did too. It was taped on a VHS and then later given to my Grandaddy to watch. He loved that video so much he kept the tape and watched it regularly. It always made him laugh, just the way Dad did watching the real thing.

My emotions throughout all of those thoughts change so rapidly. First, I’m thrilled and proud of myself on top of a mountain, next I’m nervous that I might get stuck in some rocks, and then I find myself almost sad at happy memories of my childhood with my family. Geeze, this hike is interesting! I do manage to not get myself stuck in rocks, but soon find myself going down some seriously steep hills.

In an attempt to not fall and eat dirt I tell myself to go down like a snow skier, side to side. That only lasts twenty minutes. I’m rounding a curve to the right and there’s a large patch of regular old brown dirt. Which is rare. Usually theres sticks, leaves, tree roots, rocks and other nature jazz on the trail and before I think about it, I say out loud “Here’s where you fall and hurt yourself.” Two steps later, I slip on that damn dirt and my left knee goes down hard and my shoulder follows and after that, my face. Thankfully my face is ok. Everything else, not so much. The problem is that my pack is on top of my face, pinning me down, and my right arm is underneath me, stuck. Everything on my left side hurts. I manage to get my right hand free enough to unbuckle my pack and chest strap and then roll myself out of it. After gaining the energy to sit up and come to my senses again, I check out the throbbing coming from my knee. It’s all bloody and dirty. I bend it to get a better look at the damage, when I do it burns and blood starts dripping down the sides. I’ve opened up a pretty significant gash that’s long and in a U-shape on the top of my knee. Tears start to fall as I get myself together. It hurts of course but nothing I can’t get past. I manage to pull my pack close to me and get in my first aid ziplock bag. I get out alcohol wipes, bandaids, Neosporin and baby wipes. Next I get my snack bag out and find a Snickers bar. After tearing open several bandaid wrappers and wiping my tears away so I can see what I’m doing, I get to work cleaning it out. The alcohol wipes sting so I blow on the gash to help that. Then I do Neosporin and grab the band aids. Not sure if I should use the flap of skin to place back over the raw, red flesh that’s showing or to tear if off and let the new skin grow back on it’s own, I go with throwing the skin that’s come almost off back over the knee where it came off from and hope for the best. Get the bandaids on and wipe the rest of my dirty and bloodied leg off. I wash my hands and then unwrap my Snickers. I’m not feeling myself so I need one. After cleaning up and putting all my trash in a trash ziplock bag I also take some Advil and get my pack back ready for more adventures. I decide right then and there that even though this wasn’t part of the adventure that I enjoyed, it’s still a part of it. “Adventure!” I say out-loud and a small smile breaks over my face.

Very cautiously now making my way down, I pretend that my body isn’t hurting a little and that tomorrow I won’t be sore and that this is just a part of it. It’s not like I broke anything or need assistance. But I can’t help but thinking if I was back in real life how I would’ve gone home, poured myself a glass of red wine, gotten in my pjs and found my spot on my couch, put on a movie and been perfectly content to do nothing the rest of the day. Instead I’m walking in the woods with a tiny limp.

By 2:50pm and not too long after “the fall” there are several places where I have to take my pack off and let it fall because the steps down are much too steep for me to try to get down with a heavy load on a sore knee. One time I’m nervous about the drop because there’s only a small landing area for my pack to fall onto. I say a little prayer that when I drop it it stops before rolling off a mountain. “STOP!!!” I end up yelling at my pack as if it has the power to stop should it want to. Thankfully it does stop, but not before giving me a slight heart attack. I yell at it several more times before the trail evens out a bit more giving me a much needed break.

I walk to where the trail meets an old road where there’s also a small stream. I filter and drink 32oz in minutes. Refill it all over again. I pass a few campsites and go from an old road to trail to old road again. After a mile I make it to a campsite at 5:48pm just as the thunder and rain start up. I hurry to set up my tent and unpack my things needed for the evening. The rain comes and goes for hours. I get out once it stops to pee. Back inside to wash up and check my knee. It’s already bled through the bandaids from earlier so I clean it, put on more Neosporin and change the bandages.

Exhausted from the whirlwind of my day, I eat dinner, journal and lay down. Around 7pm after laying still for just a few minutes, I roll my achy body over to sit up and have some water. I’m so ready for sleep. I crawl into my sleeping bag but can’t sleep. I’m going over my day in my head and watching ants and bugs dance around the top of my rain fly. They’re taking shelter from the rain that has now started back up in full force. I tell them they’re welcome to stay as long as they know they are not welcome inside. I close my eyes.
Miles: 8.5
Total Miles: 249.0

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