Tuesday March 1st on Hawks Mountain

I’ve just arrived at Hawks Mountain shelter, after a typical climb up to a ridge. It was a good start for the more than 137 hiking days to follow. However, the early morning of March 1st, I woke suddenly from a dream, details I couldn’t recall. At 3am I was paralyzed with anxiety, unable to rest in the dark. For over an hour I could not get back to sleep. I felt panicky and thought I would stay another night to try and deal with this sudden fear. Fear of what I did not know. After about 45 minute, I took from my backpack, my Victor Frankle book, Man’s Search for Meaning. His story of survival from Nazi’s concentration camp, Auschwitz, taught me to calm my mind. I was able to sleep another hour. I write this in my bivy type tent, which barely fits me and due to heavy rain showers and a full shelter, I’ve surrounded myself with my pants, fleece, book, iPod, iPad, and hiking shoes and socks, in the tiny vestibule.

The community of AT thru hikers is inspiring and filled with lives so courageous and sad at times. I’m loving each one for who they are. I will try later to add to this, but the rain and my quite small sleeping quarters limit my single finger entries.

My life at this moment feels simple, exciting, exhilarating and challenging.

Tonight, as different than last night shows me that I’m up for the challenge. It’s 8:54pm. Though I’ve been lying in my tent for since about 7:30, I meditated to relax my mind and I’ve read in Frankle’s book. I think I want to sleep now and the heavy pouring rain is strangely soothing. However, the roaring sounds of coming wind is not relaxing. They move quickly from miles away and approach with amazing speed into and past our camp. Nature truly rules and I’m fortunate to be able to live with these forces. Goodnight now, I think.

Wednesday March 2nd at Gooch Gap shelter

Learn much about myself. After waking from a sleet and snow storm with high gusting winds, I rose with symptoms of hypothermia: nausea, cloudy head & chills. After making hot coffee and hot oatmeal and relaxing, I got warm and excited to hike. Though I left up to 2 hours later than others, my time to next shelter was in line with everyone but the 19 to 20 year old guys. So, I’ve succeeded in respecting my body and leaving an option to leave the trail for a day if necessary. Several of us are getting off the trail before tomorrow’s afternoon rain and snow storm, getting back on on Friday. I experienced my first trail Angels, when two couples hiked in a mile to shelter from a side trail with a huge thermo of hot tea. It was wonderful. I hope to get posted a picture of these Angels later, as I visit over wood pit fire with fellow campers. I’m sleeping in the shelter tonight and have 3 layers on, a face mask and my new 16 degree bag. I will not sleep again in my bivy hypothermia inducing tent.

Life is great when the challenges are met and met with full respect.

Spring Mountain (Elevation 3782')