Monday, August 23, 2010

He'll Be Coming Around the Mountain

My very first section hike is about to end, but the AT has one last unexpected situation to throw at me. During my entire hike I was always mindful of the fact that at any moment I could run smack into a bear, elk, rattle snake or even worse - a gang of those microscopic gnats.  However, I wasn't prepared for what happened next.  I could sense that I was nearing the end of my hike at Woody Gap since I pass a few people going southbound with no packs on their backs - this is a good indication that they must have parked their car at Woody Gap and took a short stroll on the AT.   Knowing the end of my hike is near, I keep my head down and my eyes focused on the narrow trail in front of me. A wrong step here would send me tumbling down the mountain with little hope of recovery. I hear some voices on the trail ahead of me and I assume it is a few more folks from Woody Gap out for a stroll. However, as I rounded a blind curve in the trail I inadvertently run into two young men looking for love in all the wrong places - right in the middle of the trail! Startled, their flight instincts immediately kick in as one of them runs in the opposite direction on the trail while the other one makes a rather poor decision to jump off the side of the mountain....a really steep mountain. I'm not making that part up - it was one of the craziest things I have ever seen - a half naked man sliding down the side of a mountain while attempting to pull up his pants at the same time.  Luckily the third tree he hit stopped his fall. I stroll casually over to where he took his leap, look down and ask if he is okay.  He mumbles back that he is fine and I make an executive decision to take his word for it.  At this point I figure he doesn't need me adding to his embarrassment, so I just keep hiking as if nothing ever happened. 

Shaking my head and with a grin on my face, I move my tired legs a little faster and I finally reach my car around 5:00 p.m. I feel a huge sense of relief and accomplishment.  I have hiked 28.9 total miles with 8.8 miles of that being the approach trail. Therefore, I've technically hiked only the first 20.1 miles of the AT...only 2,154.9 miles left to go. My body is very sore, but my mind is recharged and ready to go.  What a crazy adventure.  I can't wait to return.