Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Turnaround

Written by: Brandon "Monkey" Imp

My last blog entry was about some of the worst days on the trail. As the title indicates, here is the turnaround. I have written an "entry" in my journal only once thus far, and I am sharing it with you. (I'll try to clean up the grammar a bit for you too...)

Sunday April 4, 2010 Easter Sunday
Today has been my favorite day on the trail yet, and I want to preserve its memory by writing the day's events down.

It started at sunrise. Kate, Emily, and I tented on top of a Bald a few miles past the Standing Bear Farm. The hill with the UFO-looking air traffic control building. Tornado (Evan) and Yianni tented with us to - Tornado in my tent and Yianni in his own. At sunrise, Yianni woke the two girls and said he was going back to sleep. So, I went back to sleep. At some point Tornado left to watch with Kate and Emily. An hour passed and I emerged with Poptarts in hand. The three were in their sleeping bags on the other side of the hill - Kate and Emily talking and Tornado back asleep. I walked around and ate my breakfast (swatting at the incessant flies). I grew tired and, aggravated at the flies, drew out my sleeping bag too. More time passed as I cat napped. Yianni got up and we all gradually packed. As we were doing so, hikers came up the mountain and looked at the view - we knew some of them but not all. We had our morning stretch (and a little yoga) on the mountain top - don't worry, we filmed. Eventually we all headed out, feeling energized, and walked .5 miles to the water source. The water was basically mud, and the bugs were dive-bombing into us. For some reason, though, the pumping went fast and with little spraying (our pump is a little leaky).

I took off first. The first 2 miles were easy and downhill. This is where the first surprise happened - I ran into Nobody! Nobody is another thru-hiker. He is mid-thirties, tattooed, owns a bar (Flannigans (sp?)) in New Orleans, and is basically one of our favorite new friends. We thought he took a few zeroes, so we were not expecting to see him for some time (if at all). That he caught up, and passed us, was incredible, a huge surprise, and a happy reunion!

I continued on for a few miles when the second surprise happened - SNAKE. It was a foot long, striped, and tired to eat me. I swear it did. It was slithering and probably looking me up and down thinking, "I'm going to bite this guy and eat him." I yelled when I saw it, and continued yelling until it left. And, even though it left, I did not see where to so I hiked up and around the spot. It was so so so scary.

A mile later I came to a road and stopped for a snack. Nobody and Lightning caught up to me and both were really really hot (it is in the 70s/80s and we were going up and down - LOTS of sweating). Nobody only has pants right now, so I lent him my nail scissors to make cut-off shorts hiker-style. Emily took off her shirt (had sports bra) and they joked how a passerby would think the group to be weird/in underwear on the side of the road! I told Lightning I would stop for lunch at Max Field - apparently a good view. We estimated we had done 2.5 of the 7 we needed to do. But! 20 feet down the trail was a sign that siad it was only 3.5 miles! Hiking far and fast and unexpected is a big plus in hiker world.

The 3.5 was up and down. Not deadly, but enough to keep the sweat dripping down my face and keep the flies ineterested. There were a few great stream crossings and I met up with a bunch of hikers .8 miles before Max Patch. Finished the hike up the hill with Twigs, taking in the 360 degree view and talking about our film. Commented on how it is hard to film the AT because we want to be truthful - rain, snow, revelations, bad days, etc. are hard to film! As we were getting to the top, two women with coolers were coming down - surprise #3 is trail magic! Clumsy and the other woman left food and drinks and games at the top. When we reached the top, it was a regular party. About 20 thru-hikers were relaxing and socializing. Some more would come and some would go. I ate my peanut butter (Justin's Nut Butter with Honey - to die for!) and pita supplemented with a delicious apple and grape soda. I shared some peanut butter with Nobody and Big Dipper - like giving candy to a baby. (It's so weird that Americans love penaut butter but most of he greater world thinks it disgusting.) Lightning and Ring Leader got up there and we relaxed. Prophet was already on the hill and Yianni and Tornado eventually came. Just a giant gathering of great people. Kate showed us a video clip she filmed - her spinning around for 4 minutes like in the Sound of Music. Hahaha hilarious. She asked Emily and I on camera where we were from 1 to 10. Emily was 10, I was 9.5, and Kate was 9.97. I said the only way to raise me to a 10 was with funnel cake...I run a hard bargain. A Lady Gaga song came on the wind up radio...Bad Romance. After it, Kate and I left. 6.7 miles to Walnut Mountain Shelter.

Kate walks fast downhill, so she sped off fast in front of me. Lost sight. It was ok because I had "If you're happy and you know..." in my head. Worked out well for me...wear a bandana, stomp your feet, use trekking poles, hike...tailored to me perfectly!

I crossed a stream and did not see the trail. I took what could have been it, but was skeptical. I had to climb over blowdown trees and the bushes were thickening. I did not see white blazes and then had to go up. At that point, about 10 minutes in, I decided to go back to the crossing. I found it at the stream..had to do a sharp turn. Then! It was all flat walking. I walked in rhodendrum tunnels and past fences. It was literally and figuratively a "Walk in the Park." And it continued all the way until 1.3 miles before the shelter. The walk in the park was so relaxing, for hiking 5.4 miles, that it brought me up to a 10.

I knew the last 1.3 miles was up...700 feet. I passed Yianni at the bottom. I hiked hard and finished the day strong. I broke a sweat again, but I did not care. A few were at the shelter already - Nobody, Tornado, Nefis, Big Dipper, and a father and daughter and dog on a 3-day trip. The shelter was terrible and rotting. I saw a cockroach nearby. Nobody was going to push on...a water source and gap in 4 miles so that would probably be it. I wanted to go, but waited for Emily and Kate. None of the hikers saw Kate after the hill, but she was in front of me, so I was worried. When Lightning got there though she said Kate was close behind...took a wrong turn. So, we stayed the night. We went down to a thron field with 9 other hikers and Yianni (no flat space by the shelter) and set up tents. By myself tonight, and am happy. The front is open to let the breeze in!

Dinner was Cache Lake. Getting to the end of that food order. Their food is decent, but no enough nutrition/Calories for thru-hikers. (We are fine though because we always supplemented with rice or cous cous, and some extra sides).

Eventually I went in my tent. Turned on my phone and received some texts - Happy Easter from Amy and some "miss you" from Carla, Vanessa, and others. Tried to text back but it failed - bad service in the south for AT&T I guess.

Turned on my iPod and scrolled to find something soothing. Came across Feist - only have 1234. I listened. This song was the height of Beane and Molly's love story in "Love Song" - the last play I was in. Brought on a wave of emotions. I tried to text Kelly D. the "listened and miss you and want to see you" bu it fell through (bad service!) I said "it was the cherry on top of a wonderful day on the trail." And I meant it.
Then, I wrote this, my first journal entry.

Now, I will have delightful dreams of friends and happy days.
Today, I am happy.

Hope you enjoyed the journal entry. I am not sure if others will find it as wonderful as I did.
Also, if you would like to learn more about Cornell's theatre department and shows, check out the website www.savecornellarts.com. The college is cutting a large portion of the budget, so Theatre, Film, and Dance may not be around much longer at the IVY LEAGUE school.

1 comment:

  1. Glad to hear you hit your "10" the other day. You sound content and happy and having a really fun time. Keep it up! It's a riot hearing all the trail names. Give us a little history about everyone so we can picture them in our minds as you travel along, often mentioning their names.