The past few days have been a swirling mess of 50 degree temps, pouring rain, 40-60 mph winds and the beginnings of hypothermia. After my second night at the Hyde-a-way Inn I woke up to rain and a thick cover of fog. Getting rained on after you've started hiking sucks, but getting out of a nice warm car into the rain is horribly depressing. Mountain Goat and I started hiking, because it's what we do, but it was one of those days where you question the wisdom of your decisions. The terrain has gotten much steeper, much more rock and root filled, and the rain, well the rain has been exceptionally bad. The best way I can describe the hiking recently is to have you set the stairmaster or the elliptical to their maximum settings, turn the thermostat down to 50, run a hose with cold water over your head, and set every fan in the house to blow at 40-60mph. We determined that that would give you a rough idea of our last few days.
I wish I'd been able to take pictures of the trail yesterday. I decided that it was no longer a trail but a “strail,” a combination if trail and stream. Terrific. All kidding aside, I attempted to reach the summit of Camel's Hump, one of the big climbs on the long trail, but had to turn back one tenth of a mile before the summit because the wind was blowing over the top of the mountain and pushing me down. I reached tree line, took a few more steps and without a seconds thought I turned around and took the bad weather route. It was that scary. On the way down I began to notice that no matter how fast I walked I was unable to get warm. Then the shivering started. The beginnings of hypothermia were setting in and we still had a ton if miles to do. I knew I had to find a place to stay for the night because I was so cold and wet that even being in the shelter probably wouldn't help. We ended up getting a ride to Mountain Goat’s house, ate pizza, took showers, and did laundry and hit the trail this morning ready to go again.
It all seems so ridiculous; blisters, numbing cold, shitty food, long hours. So why do it? I’m not sure there's any one answer but I can tell you that there is something to be learned from what I’m doing out here. More will be revealed. For now I’m just DOING. The rest will sort itself out later.
Here's a quote from one of my favorite punk rock bands, Bad Religion:
"My mind is reeling like ten helicopters wheeling
And I'm gonna hit the ceiling like a hammer on a bell".
Tilt-A-Whirl is Out!