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2015 Lady Thru-Hiker

Despite Initial Misstep 3 Night Solo Shake-Down Success

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My original plan was to hike from my condo and access the current AT via the Old Appalachian Trail that runs through Wintergreen. I should have picked up the AT at Dripping Rock after about 3 miles then 7 miles to Maupin Fields shelter. Of course I had my AWOL and the local section map but no map of the trail here on Wintergreen. Of course they did not change the color of the blaze to indicate the access trail for the switch over to the current AT and I totally missed it and ended up hiking the loop almost all the way back to my place - geez!! By that time I had climbed up boulders and slid down them - it was crazy sometimes. When I finally made the last climb of about 700 feet up and out I was having leg cramps and was pretty certain I was done for the day. I was so frustrated with myself. I actually ended up letting one of the ski lift maintenance people drive me the short distance to the lodge and then took the shuttle back to my condo. At first I was going to give in and stay the night at the condo and try again the next day but eventually decided to get off my butt and drive up to Reeds Gap and hike on into Maupin. It was about 6 PM by then but I felt I could make it before dark. Just as I was getting started a guy came hiking out, so I asked him how the trail to Maupin was and he told me "once you get over that 'little' bump it's all downhill". By the time I got to the top of the 'little' bump I was cursing him. Little did I know at that time that I was going to find out over the next 2 days why he called it a 'little' bump. I was so happy to finally be there. The shelter is set well back from the trail with dispersed sites all around, including one closer to the trail itself so I set up there. Got my tent up, cooked some dinner on a little alcohol stove got Rockfish Gap Outfitters (Nice folks there. Got to meet Rich, a guy who has done a thru-hike), had a little fire and climbed in my tent. I was the only one there, so definitely a solo night! Oh, and I used a bear pole. Those things are a pain in the butt!! But, as I learned when I actually read the shelter register 2 days later, they have had problems with a bear there this season so I was glad I did. I laid and listened to a symphony of cicadas, crickets, frogs and birds all night long. Funny as tired as I was, I never really slept.<br>&nbsp;<br>Day 2 started out slow. Probably didn't get up until around 8. It was cloudy but no rain overnight Broke camp, ate an energy bar and drank a healthy dose of electrolyte replacement before heading out at around 930, but not before I saw a guy run off toward the Mau Har Trail, “Power to him I thought”. Ended up following a guy and his son up the AT to Hanging Rock Overlook. Magnificent view. The father and son headed back down shortly after they got there and that dang runner from earlier showed up. He had already run the Mau Har and up the AT. So in awe of that. After a short conversation with him I moved onto 3 Ridges, then the view of Chimney Rock. There was one other spot on the descent that offered a very fine view as well. &nbsp;Got down to Harper's Creek shelter around 430 and was glad to be there. Oh, I forgot - there was next to no water at Maupin, which made me glad that I had carried in 4 liters. However, as I first walked up to Harper's it initially appeared dry and I only had about a liter of water left, so my heart sank. However, when I got down to the actual creek I found a small, shallow pool with clear water running into it, so I knew I could get water and was relieved. Shortly after I got there another hiker came up, by the trail name of NoBigDeal. Nice gentleman, retired pharmacist, doing the southern end of a flip-flop. He had started with his wife but she got injured 450 miles out so he has been doing it solo since. He probably doesn't know it but I was watching the stuff he had, the way he had it packed and the way he did things like a hawk. Learned some things from him. Showed me a cool way to do a bear bag using a carbineer. Later a gentleman who was in his 70s showed up with his 2 20-something grandsons to spent the weekend. The older guy has the trail name Grateful Grandpa and has thru-hiked twice!! Once in 93 when he was 52, and again in 99 with his daughter. What a delightful family. The grandsons were so attentive to making sure he was comfortable and had what he needed. Manage to pull off a wash down in the privy. It didn't smell too bad in there and I felt so much better afterward. Left me feeling much more comfortable and better able to enjoy a wonderful night of pleasant conversation. Actually slept in a shelter for the first time!<br>&nbsp;<br>The next day started earlier, with NBD and GG getting up about 6 AM. Cloudy but still no rain Breaking camp was easy of course because of sleeping in the shelter, no tent to break down. NBD wrapped things up quick and headed toward the Priest. My breakfast was simple and I should have been out of there more quickly but GG was so sweet it was hard to break away. He loves to talk. Didn't get out until probably 830. I decided to walk back via the Mau Har. Should have paid a little more attention to the description. WOW! They do not believe much in switchbacks. For the most part it was straight up or straight down - good Lord! I had thought when I started out that morning that maybe I would go ahead and hike out to my car and then do Reeds Gap to Dripping Rock the next day to see where in the heck I missed my turn, but by the time I got to the shelter at about 1 PM I was done! That 4.8 kicked my butt!! I was perfectly content to sit and be still for a while. Following NDBs example I stayed busy long enough to take care of what needed to be taken care of first, getting changed so clothes could dry, finding a place to get water further down the creek, setting up in the shelter in case others came up before the evening set in. Sat and read the register and saw some familiar names like Texaco and jimmyjam. Read about some poor young guys that stayed there the night before, unfortunately with some drunk navy guys. One poor fellow woke up to one of the drunk navy guys peeing on him The young fellows ended passing through again on their way back to Reeds Gap from looping down the Mau Har and back by the AT. They told how the navy guys had come in with a case of beer, hot dogs and A1 sauce. They, of course, left the beer cans and A1 bottle in the fire pit, which I packed out with me the next day. Fortunately for them they didn't attract the bear. They hung out for a little while and talked then headed on their way. Shortly after another group came in, but they set up camp at one of the campsites so I had the shelter all to myself for the night. Had a nice-sized fire that night. Hung out by the fire for a while then hung my food bag on the bear pole (is there a secret to getting them up there. it nearly killed me.) and went to bed. Sleep pretty well. While I hear, though never saw or felt any mice at the Harper’s Creek Shelter, I never even heard any at Maupin. <br>&nbsp;<br>Woke up to a light rain and wispy clouds enveloping the area. It was soft rain so not uncomfortable. Actually made for a pleasant morning getting packed up. Realized when I put my socks on both my big toes are bruised under the nails - no good. I am sure that all the steep descents on the Mau Har took their toll but I think I may have pulled my socks on too tight as well. After pulling on my socks I pulled the toes loose a little to keep them from being too tight Ate a quick breakfast but tried to pack in more calories as I believe that is one reason my muscles are feeling so fatigued - not enough calories over the past few days. Going to have work on packing more in but I'm just not hungry when I finish hiking for the day and get full to the point of being uncomfortable quickly. As I leave out I noticed the group of campers that had come in the night before have already packed up and gone. A couple ran by heading down the trail to the Mau Har - crazy kids! I started out wearing my Frogg Toggs and quickly realized that the top was going to be too hot to wear. They may work in cooler weather but under these conditions I think I will go with gaiters to try to keep my feet a little drier, a hat to keep the water off my face and maybe a rain kilt. I left the pants on to help keep my feet dry as long as possible and just tied the arms of the jacket around my shoulders so that I could slip the hood on if it started raining hard. It never rained hard and there were some cool breezes so, despite sore toes and leg muscles, it was a very nice hike out. Just before I came out to Reeds Gap a father and young son came walking along. The father said hello, inquired about how far it was to the shelter and told me his son was wondering, "where do people sleep when they go into the woods". I showed him my tent strapped to my pack and told him that people carried wood and supplies all the way into the woods to build shelters people could sleep in so if they don't have a tent or it rains they can still sleep in the woods. He was shy at first but grinning by the time we parted ways, eager to see a shelter. As for myself, I was not unhappy to head to my Escape (happy of course to see it still there and unharmed, especially since I left my keys locked up in it - I know, I know. I worried about it all weekend. Live and learn.) As much as I was looking forward to getting a shower, going to down to Wild Wolf to get a pulled pork BBQ sandwich with a Ginger Lager and resting my weary muscles I was thinking how grand it would be if I knew that Monday morning I could wake up and hit the trail again on other the other side of Reeds Gap and walk a while longer.&nbsp;<br>&nbsp;<br>That’s it for now. Can’t wait until next time.
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  1. Teacher & Snacktime's Avatar
    Nice story....and great trip from the sounds of it. It's always the foibles that make it memorable.
  2. 2015 Lady Thru-Hiker's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Teacher & Snacktime
    Nice story....and great trip from the sounds of it. It's always the foibles that make it memorable.
    Thanks T&S. I confess I was a bit nervous. That was the longest I've been out by myself that wasn't camping/hiking near well-populated camping areas. Figured as long as I take my time, listen to what my body is telling me and HMOH I'd be okay. Despite some huffing and puffing it was a great time. Downside? I have to wait 2 whole weeks before I can really get out there again
  3. Teacher & Snacktime's Avatar
    The in-between time is unendurable
  4. Roanmtnman's Avatar
    Luv the story ! Cant wait till it warms up a bit more!!!
  5. 2015 Lady Thru-Hiker's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Roanmtnman
    Luv the story ! Cant wait till it warms up a bit more!!!
    Thank you RMM. It's been a while since I've done any real writing and I fear I rambled a bit. Looking forward to honing my skills as I will be starting a trail journal in earnest with my start date just around the corner. Will you be writing a journal or blog?