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[at-l] Beginner's 3-Day Hike - Day 1

Of course I got to Hogpen Gap later than I had planned - but counted the
extra 30 minutes spent eliminating the 8 pounds from my pack a good
investment for the day.  At least I could now pick up my pack and put it on
without straining too hard! ;-)

My son and 1-year old granddaughter drove me over and saw me off.  She was
not impressed with the layers of mountains disappearing into the distance
but I was.  Without letting myself think too much more about it I headed up
the trail about 9 AM with my too short ski poles working.  Felt odd to be
finally doing it, but also felt right at home from all the *practice.*

I think it was on the second uphill that I stopped, struck by the thought
of all those who had *gone before.*  I took a moment and pondered -
everyone from the thru-hiker legends to those whose journals I had read
on-line to my own son who had just dropped me off.  What fun to be on the
same trail hiking.  It was a perfect day for it.

One concern had been the heat.  Because most of the AT is overgrown with
trees I didn't carry an umbrella.  I learned years ago I had to use an
umbrella to sit in the sun - and was prepared to bring one.  My kids talked
me out of it and I'm glad they did.  With all those trees, the way I take
breaks and drink water, maybe the electrolyte replacement stuff - anyway, I
never needed help with the heat.  Truth is, as I say, I am finally getting
better.  I am actually handling heat better this year - a lovely change of
pace after 40 plus years of dealing with the problem.

One guy passed me hiking south.  We said good morning and kept going.
After another hour or so, a couple passed me.  All 3 of these people looked
like real pros to me but I didn't ask them any questions - just exchanged
greetings.  An apparent father/son team passed (and I later passed them).
They asked me about my (Atlanta) Braves cap.  I felt for the young man who
looked like he was having a typical teenage misery day - not the great day
in the woods I feel sure his father wanted to give up.  But felt helpless
to do anything about it and went on.

Later a young guy moving fast passed me from behind.  He asked me how far
to Low Gap Shelter.  I gave him my best guess (like I would know) 1.5 - 2
miles, and he barely paused.  Flashing an almost empty bottle he sped on.
"No water!" he said.  I thought about calling him back to offer him some
but decided he probably was happy *chasing* it.

I stopped everytime I thought I needed to - before I got tired, hungry, or
thirsty - and took long enough breaks that I felt completely refreshed each
time I went back to it.  Often, on uphills, I just have to pause for a few
seconds, to let my body catch up with my I suppose.  But as long as I do
all that I feel like I can go on indefinitely.

I lost tract somewhere in there of how many ups and downs there had been.
When I was on what turned out to be the last before the shelter, I wasn't
sure if there was one more or not.  I was okay, either way - but that
shelter sign was a welcome site.  I had only drunk 5 of my 7 liters of
water - which I credited mainly to it not being so hot as it had been when
I did my test run day hike.  I hadn't stopped for a real lunch - just
snacks - and that was showing on my energy level.  I pulled into the
shelter about 4:40, 7 hours and 40 minutes for 4.2 miles.  Felt good but
ready to stop.  I think the reason it took me that long was the due to my
many good breaks - the hiking itself did not seem too strenuous.

The father/son team were in the first campsite and waved.  The young man
with *no water* was there at the shelter along with 2 other guys hiking
south together.  I was acutely aware of being *brand new* as this was my
first hiking shelter experience.  Turns out we were all pretty new and
enjoyed swapping stories on what brought us here - although we never did
exchange names.  Next time, I'll start. ;-)  One more couple came through
and went on while I was setting up my tent.

We all fixed and ate dinner and got our water centered around the picnic
table and then drifted off to camp in our tents.  The only glitch in my
plans were that I forgot the salt and my dinner needed it.  I bummed a pack
of salt from the Boy Scouts had by that time some come in.  They were nice
but were a little overwhelming, loud and otherwise.  I was in bed in my
tent before dark, washed off and in my silks, made sure I had everything I
needed for the morning - and then tried to get to sleep.

I say tried because the tent was on a very slight slope and I spent the
night fighting gravity in my new fleece bag sliding off the 3/4 Thermarest.
I changed directions a couple times and put my pack under my legs.
Everything seemed to help and I did get to sleep - repeatedly.  I was
afraid it might feel hot in the tent but it cooled off just enough to feel
great.  It was a good night and next time I will take a slight slope a lot
more seriously! ;-)  LOVED my new homemade fleece bag!!

At some point I realized I hadn't thought about my feet all day.  This is a
good thing - have to guard against inflammation getting started that can
build heels spurs.  I must have slept about 10 hours (with lots of breaks).


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