Woke up today in a crazy good mood and anxious to hit the climb up to Clingmans Dome. I don’t know if it was the 13 hours I spent in my sleeping bag or the great sleep I got with the hard rain last night but I was ready to get things right with the Smokies.
The day started off pretty foggy and rainy but as I got closer to Newfound Gap things really brightened up as I hiked through the famous parts of the AT that looks like the fairy forest or where the Ewoks would hang out. I stopped for lunch at Newfound and got some trail magic and ran into my hiking buddy Jitter. We decided to meet up for the night at the next shelter in about 3 miles.
We got to Icewater Springs Shelter just as the sun really came out and had a great dinner basking on the hill. I pulled my sleeping stuff out and had a great conversation with a group of medical students here on spring break. The shelter filled up tonight (hooray) and I was happy to be allowed to set up my tent.
I think a big reason for my funk yesterday was the Appalachian Trail Debbie Downer that I ran into. We are on the lookout for bears and wild boars but this dangerous creature took me by surprise. As I passed a hiker headed the other way, I said hello and he attacked:
Low Branch (LB): “Hey there, beautiful day isn’t it?”
AT Debbie Downer (DD): “Are you trying to thru hike?”
LB: “Sure am and feeling great.”
DD: “What did you do, quit your job or something?”
LB: “Actually, my firm was really cool and gave me a leave of absence and the trail has been amazing.”
DD: “It looks pretty miserable and I would hate to sleep in a tent and eat noodles for 6 months.”
LB: Maybe I can get this guy out of the ditch. “Actually, I’ve stayed in some really cool hostels and I’m making some tasty food.”
DD: “Well, you have a LONG way to go.”
LB: No shit Magellan. I have a map too. “See yah down trail.”
Man, you can only run from this stuff. I’m on mile 12 of a 17 mile day and staying positive to keep going but people like this just want to beat you down. It ain’t happening. Just keep hiking and stay happy. Debbies beware.