Sunday, June 15, 2008


I’m not usually the type to believe in signs of bad fortune, but if the good Lord above does give signs, there was a time when he (or she) may have been telling me not to go hiking. After spending a day riding with the tow man to a repair shop and sitting in a waiting room, which consisted of a blue pleather chair in a room with a receptionist that said “Jesus Christ!” while slamming the phone down several times, I regrouped and started section 2 of my hiking adventure.

I went to some trails in upstate SC. These trails were not on the AT, but that doesn’t really bother me one bit. The first day, I hiked up to some really beautiful views of mostly untouched forest land with a few scattered small farms and a stream below. On the way to the campsite, though, I got stuck in a hail storm that just about made me cuss. The wind was blowing sideways at first, then the hail (bigger than peas, smaller than golfballs) came hurling down, whole trees fell all around me, and to top it off, one limb fell on my head and left a glob of sap in my hair that would end up staying there for the next couple of weeks. I hiked back to my car and fell asleep inside while waiting for the lightening to stop. The next day was beautiful, though, and I met a man with an ankle-biter dog who hiked the AT last year. He told me I would love Maine, and now I knew for sure that I was meant to keep truckin’. I met another guy the next night staying at the same campsite as me who had just finished road biking the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyland Drive. Another thing to consider for my “to do” list.

Then I went over to where the AT passes through the Nantahala Forest in NC. The first thing I noticed was a big sign saying that there were resident bears at the campsite that scavenged at night for food left out by campers. And this is how my fear of bears came back. After 1 successful day of hiking through the brightest green trees I’ve ever seen, I hiked past another sign that said a bear had been stealing packs off hikers, and he showed “no fear of humans”. The first bear I heard was a little ways off in the distance, but I hopped off the trail and hiked the rest of the way to the campsite along the road. I don't know why it made me feel safer to be in the road, but it did. When I got to my campsite, it started raining, and kept raining, all the way through the night and the next day. My gaiters didn’t completely keep the rain out my boots, so I wore full raingear (raincoat and rainpants) as I kept hiking…in NC…in June. Man, I tell you what, it was hotter than a match. But, the steam rising off the trees after a good rain is one of the most beautiful things ever, what my mom would call "a memory".

So, I made it past a broke-down car, a hail storm, and a seemingly endless rain storm, and some rogue bears, and I made it out alive. Maybe these weren’t bad signs after all, maybe they were just tests. I’m ready to get back to it. Vermont, here I come.

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