Top of Big Bald

Bonfire and trailmates at Curley Shelter

April 14th

After a breakfast of muscle milk and a Little Debbie’s honey bun, I began thinking of my knee and whether a hike day or zero day was necessary. While considering this, I discussed with Tweety of my need to reduce pack weight. My 5 days of food bag weighed just under 8 lbs, which was great. My compression bag with sleeping bag weighed about 5 lbs. I’ve decided to switch to a 20 oz quilt bag by Enlightened Equip once I get over Mt Rogers VA. Lemonhead heard my discussion and asked about my pack, after I mentioned to Tweety that I was considering a ZPack with Cuban fiber. Lemonhead is very knowledgable about all Osprey tents & other tents, such as ZPack, since he is an aspiring outdoor equipment retailer. I ended up buying an Exos 58 Osprey that weighs 2 1/2 lbs, as opposed to my 4 1/2 lb Osprey 65. I sent my Osprey 65 to my son, Jacob, today. It’s a substantially lighter pack now, weighing 36 lbs, fully loaded with water and 5 days of food. I made the switch to honor my knee that is still healing. After 5 miles of mostly vertical hiking, I’m very happy with the pack and the lighter weight. The 5 mile up went extremely well, then I decided to stop early (1:45pm) at Curley Shelter. It’s quite relaxing to tent and settle in early. Not many people here, so very peaceful and my home was set up early. It’s a warm 60’s day and no rain in the forecast. This will be a great mountain night and hopefully star filled sky. I had my first water entry. As I stepped onto two moss covered rocks to fill my water bottle, I slipped and did a vaudeville act that ended with water over my right shoe. A good reason why I carry an extra wool sock and liner sock with me.

Curley Shelter

Here at the shelter is Pops, The Kid, Treehugger, Simon and two others. I’m feeling strong today for the coming big mountains over the next 10 days. Mt Rogers is less than two weeks away, two days after Damascus. After Mt Rogers, the winter items get sent out for warm weather items. My pack weight will likely decrease to close to 30 lbs total (I hope!). Yeah! Triple flour tortilla with Mexican blend cheese and tuna fish in oil for lunch. Pesto Salmon with Pasta Backpacker’s Pantry for dinner. I’m fortunate to have bought a large supply of such meals from a couple PCT hikers, who needed to end their thru hike, sadly, due to a death in the family last year. I paid them for their dehydrated meals, which they bought wholesale thru their employers, REI and Costco. The sky is clouded over, so likely no stars, but no rain expected. We are all gathering dry wood for a small bonfire, which we often do in these mountains. I wish I could transport everyone briefly to this moment of serenity in a 4,000 foot mountain with all these like-minded people from Germany, Santa Cruz, Vermont, Delaware, New Zealand, and most states on the east coast. I love my life. It truly is the most difficult fun time I’ve ever had.

As the sky begins to open to allow stars to be viewed tonight, I sit before the fire and Rafiki, who is doing some South American style bracelet weaving, gifted me one of his completed weaves. I feel blessed with connectedness.

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