AT Happiness: The Hardest Day So Far
On the Appalachian Trail many of us use guides instead of maps. The majority of us use The AT Guide by David Miller. One of the features I love in the guide are the profiles. Profiles aren’t topographic renderings in other words, not exact representations of the trail. However, they give you a good idea what you are in store for, how difficult the day will be. They are not perfect!
This point was driven home several days ago. We set out to do a little over 12 miles in the Smokies to get to Siler’s Bald Shelter. The day started by climbing Rocky Top and Thunderhead Mountain. Damn Yankee had given me a heads up about the difficulty of the first climb. It was tough but the views were spectacular.
The rest of the day seemed to be a standard hard day in the Smokies according to the profile. But it wasn’t, the early climbs had taken too much time and we needed to push. This was expected but the hills were far more gnarly than expected. We had to push, the push took a lot more out of us than we anticipated.
We chaffed when a hiker going the other way misinformed us about both the distance to the shelter and the slope. To top it all off the shelter looked to be on the base of the last climb, it was nearer the top. A reality of the way the profiles represent things.
The cherries on top included several of us running low on food, not finding a midpoint water source and finally half of us arriving in a rain and hail storm burst.
People were stretched and stressed, we were worn out and all of our various injuries were screaming at us. For me, the weather also signaled a miserable, sleepless night in the shelter. But the trail provides!
While blowing up my Thermarest a kid named Chris, doing a short 3 day hike inquired about my pad. He didn’t like his large, super thick pad and offered to trade for the night, I almost kissed him. So instead of a sleepless night, I had my best night ever in a shelter. The trail provides!
Never give up on a day my friends, even at the last minute you could have a happy day.- Rev Kane