Mountain companions

Finding peace away from town. April 8th.

Waking this morning I have two driving thoughts on my mind. First, I’ve been in Hot Springs too long now, though physically, it’s likely the best thing for my left knee. The K Tape has helped tremendously. However, I still have some occasional pain and discomfort. The thing is that I need to test this in the mountains. I’m now feeling quite anxious to start again. So, since I’m still in Hot Springs, after staying here for 3 nights, instead of a typical two, when I have rest day, the 68+ miles (I hiked 2 miles from one end of town to the other, as I stayed in a different place each of the three nights) to Erwin will be a full meal deal with rain today, snow tomorrow, then sunny, or partly so, for the final 3 -4 days of my hike to Erwin. At least, that’s the forecast. The severity of the weather will determine if I camp randomly or stay closer to a shelter. I feel bad for Spero, who is suffering with shin splints since he got into town. As young (33) as he is, he can and recently has put in big miles, daily exceeding 25 miles. With few exceptions, it’s too early to regularly hike in excess of 12–15 miles a day. With only 274 miles of the total of 2189 miles hiked so far, our bodies are still adjusting. I found this out during my first 69 miles and my knee has been fighting to completely heal ever since then. The K Tape is giving me relief and confidence, so I’m very optimistic about the trek to Erwin. It’ll be a great test of my knee, since there will be mountains of 3–4,500 feet to hike over. The next 5–6,000 foot high mountains come within days after Erwin. Interestingly, lately I get lonelier in the towns after a day, despite the connected hiker community, than I do in the mountains. It’s time today to get back to my nomadic home in the mountains.

Camo and Treehugger on Big Bald

Ended my hike today at Spring Mtn Shelter. I arrived early enough to take one of the 5 spaces in this very small shelter. With the snow that began an hour after I arrived, it’s nice to have this dry shelter, despite the mice and my lack of a private home, my tent. Also, in the morning, I won’t have the extra weight from the wet tent. The other 4 shelter mates are already in their sleeping bags, sleeping or working on it. I can’t sleep this early. I’m spending time with two late arriving hikers, Dr Kool Aid and Kodak. It’s quite cold up here, likely in lower 20’s or high teens. My 16 degree bag will help, but just in case, I’m sleeping in my thermal pants, two top layers plus my fleece and socks. Also, I will sleep with my Sawyer water filter since, if it freezes, it’s ruined. I just got a new washer for it and don’t want to go back to Iodine pills and the 30 minute wait to drink it.

My knee feels better than ever with the K Tape and hopefully the healing. I’d like to hike 14.5 miles to Jerry’s Cabin Shelter, though I hope to tent, if weather is dry. Time is early, 7:45pm, but I’m heading into my bag to get warm and read. Sleep will likely come to me early once I lay down.

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