The Polack Principle

April 8

14.7 miles, 194.3 overall (Silers Bald shelter)
It gets cold during the night. I forgot to grab my hat out of my pack so I struggle to use the sleeping bag’s mummy hat and at the same time keep my pillow. It doesn’t work well. To exacerbate my sleeping problems we have three Polish section hikers at the shelter who brought Jameson’s. They are a little noisy when we go to sleep, but the real fun begins around 12 after they go to bed. I am sleeping next to a thru hiker named Dewey and next to him is one of the drunk hikers. Around 12 the hiker rolls over onto Dewey’s mat. Dewey spends the next 20 minutes or so kicking and pushing the hiker, trying to get him to move. Eventually Dewey gets fed up and tells the guy “dude, get off my mat!” The hiker moans. Dewey tells him again. The hiker says “just a minute.” “no, you need to move now,” Dewey tells him. Eventually the hiker moves, but not completely. “your feet need to move too.” Finally the hiker moves and we are all able to get back to sleep.

In the morning it is cold and I have to put on 3 of my 4 top layers to stay warm. I eat my breakfast quickly so I can hit the trail soon. Today is the first day in a while that I start hiking with my second layer and the legs of my convertible pants still on. The first 3 miles or so go by quickly with me, UV, and Ninja all hiking together. We stop at the first shelter for a snack and then move on.

At this point hiking starts to become difficult for me. I’m not sure what the problem is – perhaps lack of sleep, allergies, too little food, or maybe just the long day yesterday. Whatever it is the miles just aren’t flying by today. By the time I get to the second shelter I am dreading the still 5.5 miles left for the day. However I take some time to eat and get some water and by the time I am done I’m feeling better.

As I start the last leg of the day the first 3 miles go by quickly. I even see some of the first cool wildlife I’ve seen on this trip – 2 wild turkeys! They are huge birds and they take their time crossing the trail in front of me, apparently not too worried by my presence. However the last 3 miles really drag. My energy is down but I don’t want to eat until I get to the shelter. My legs feel heavy and my mind isn’t wandering like it does when I’m hiking well. When I’m in the hiking zone I don’t think about the miles I’m walking, my mind simply wanders. All I can think about now is whether the shelter is around the next corner.

Just after 4:00 I climb the last hill and find the shelter. The first thing I do is put down my pack and throw on 2 more layers of clothes before I get cold. The close second is to start fixing food. By the time UV and Ninja catch up I have finished dinner #1 already and am about to start on dinner #2. Hikers wander in for the rest of the night – Peach, the Georgia boys, Kennedy, Buddha, Bob. Most of the hikers are people I know. It has gotten to the point where we are in a sort of hiker bubble, where we rarely meet hikers we don’t know yet. There is one new hiker here tonight whose name is Unicoi Zoom. We have seen her entries in trail registers before but have never met her yet. As I write this I still have not met her because although we have talked briefly through the tarp covering the shelter I am in the shelter in my sleeping bag and she is still outside eating her dinner.

All of us are in our bags early tonight, agreeing that today felt longer than the 15 miles it actually was. We spend the last 30 minutes or so before hiker bedtime (which we discuss and agree is 8:00) chatting and making jokes. Tomorrow we get to Cligman’s Dome, the highest point on the AT, and we pass the 200 mile mark, so it is going to be another long day on the Appalachian Trail.

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Categories: NC, TN | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “The Polack Principle

  1. Hopefully, tomorrow will be a better day, after a good night’s sleep. Happy Hiking!

  2. Rob

    I hope you have a great view at Clingman’s Dome, if you do, consider yourself blessed!

  3. Matthew

    Hey, no worries! You just need a little bit of rest…. maybe some earplugs too 🙂

  4. sillywillie

    Looks like a benchmark in that rock…Are you doing any Benchmarking or Geocaching along the way. I met your mom a few months ago at a Geocaching event

    • There are a bunch of benchmarks along the AT it you keep your eyes peeled for them. I had heard of benchmarking but never done it – I might need to start! Haven’t done any geocaching yet but I do have the app on my phone. I’ve looked for caches in the area twice but after a day of hiking I’m not usually in the mood to go walk some more to hunt down a cache!

  5. Shannon

    So I just read all the entries starting when you got to GA and I feel like I am with you on the trail except that I am not smelly or tired! What a wonderful adventure you are having. Keep up the great work, can’t wait to read more!

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