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

First I need to catch you up on the most brilliant thing I did to get ready
for my trip.  Given the possibility of using iodine for my water - I had
never done that before - I had thrown in the car with my camping stuff a
baggie with small cone-shaped coffee filters and an extra much used liter
water bottle.  My thinking was that the water bottle I prefer has a large
neck and the extra one I was taking had a small neck - it sits nicely
upside down in the one I drink out of.  I thought I might cut off the top
of the extra bottle, slip in a filter and filter my idodined water into my
drinking bottle.  This was all before I had done the test run with the
magnificent failure of the SafeWaterAnywhere bottle so I was pretty iffy
about the whole deal.

The first day there was no place to get water until Low Gap - but I needed
water when I got there, promptly filled up all my containers (and slid
right off a rock I tried to sit on to do it, onto my side in the mu.,  Did
I mention doing laundry?)  Anyway, of course the water had *stuff* in it
even after it was treated, so I tentatively tried my new home-made upside
down bottle-part/coffee-filter filtering system - and it worked GREAT!  All
my fellow sheltermates were jealous (I can only assume).  At least they
were impressed.  Interestingly, the filter seemed not only to hold back the
*junk* but most of the iodine color and taste, too.  The filtered-water
looked pretty clean and tasted not bad - and when I added my E-mergen-C
mineral ascorbates with Vitamin C effervescent powders - wowie.  A drink!
This is pretty cool for someone who can't really get away with drinking
soft drinks or even koolaid.  Anyway, I liked it.  Having my whacky looking
idodine and filter rig in a baggie in the top flap of my pack became one of
the highlights of my trip! ;-)

Second, at Low Gap Shelter (I forgot to tell you) the shelter journal was
half-eaten by meese's.  The only bit I could read and maybe recognize was
Buddha... something aobut blisters and cutting off sandal heel straps?
They had turned it into nesting material, basically.  I even heard from one
of my fellow traveller's that the Blue Mountain Shelter journal had written
up in it the demise of the Low Gap journal.  But I had my biggest brain
storm of the trip right there at Low Gap before heading out that second
morning.  I hung the (remains of) the journal from a mouse-evasion cord,
using the hole in the corner of the ziplock bag to slide the stick into.
So, I am hoping this is an idea that works and that many generations of Low
Gap journalers will now be able to write up their experiences and protect
them from our meese friendies, same way we protect our other gear.  I may
not have been the first one to think of that but out there alone that
morning I felt brilliant.  That's all that counts, right?

Ok, back to Blue Mountain shelter 3rd day.  I woke up at sunrise and
promptly went right back to sleep.  This time I was just plain still tired.
I had gotten to sleep pretty late from getting there so late and still
trying to cook, etc.  I slept until I was ready to wake up.  (My dinners
was one part of the journey that didn't really work out.  Took too long to
cook - plus, I forgot my salt so they really didn't get a fair taste test.
Back to the drawing board.)  This time I wasn't so slow packing up - but it
is amazing how long it takes to eat breakfast, pack up, get more water (yet
again), etc.  BTW, there is water at the shelter but I never really even
looked for it - just used the water *hole* back down the trail twice.  Too
tired to be adventuresome, I guess.

I had asked my son to start hiking toward me from Unicoi at noon - mostly
for his sake.  If I WAS in trouble or not making miles fast enough, he
could at least carry my pack out which would speed me up.  If he had to do
all that, heading in at noon would give him time to find me and get me out.
But of course I was fine.  Even ahead of schedule!!  Still, I knew I had
slept pretty late (9?) and still had a steep downhill to go (my downfall so
to speak - I am old enough and creaky enough that I have to take my knees

So I tried to get out fairly quick and get on the trail, but with finishing
reading the shelter journal (yahoo! my first) and doing all the reverse
camping chores, I probably didn't get out until 10:30 or 11:00.

Oh, I have to tell you about the shelter journal.  As I said, it was
interesting.  The last entry I figured was from the only hiker I had seen
my second day.  Davey.  (Anybody know Davey?)  He was hiking VA>GA.  2
Entries before Davey there was the Hyena and Macchu Picchu - they had been
at Blue Mountain the night before I started.  This means - ta dum - they
were probably the seriously pro looking couple-hikers I passed my first
day!  I feel touched!  (We only said "Good morning.")  Davey's entry said
"Okay - I give up - I did 3 20 mile days in a row and I am still 2 days
behind you guys.  But on a lighter note I am only 51 miles from my goal -
Springer."  So I was pretty excited to have this close encounter of the
shelter journal kind.  And of course I wish I had stopped and talked more
to the serious looking couple 2 days before.  That would mean they had
hiked about 10-11 miles by around 10:30 the day I saw them.  Sound right?

Anyway, back to the story.  I hung up the Blue Mountain shelter journal (in
a *new* gallon zip lock I had magnanimously donated to it) on an anti-mouse
devise before I left there, too.  Afterall, the old ziplock had had mouth
bites on the corner. ;-)  I felt so much a member of the greater good...

And took off down the mountain for Unicoi - straight up hill.  I hadn't
noticed that Blue Mountain shelter was not really on top of Blue Mountain.
I still had 500 feet to ascend before I could descend.  I only made a
couple stops on my way out to the highway.  The second one, in a beautiful
forest glade carpeted with maidenhair ferns was a memorable one.  By this
time I was getting a little nostalgic for my soon over trip.  But time
marches on and I figured I was late so I kept going to try to keep my son
from hiking in too far to meet me.

I should have figured.  He was late - he pulled over the crest of Unicoi
Gap as I started across the parking lot after crossing the road.  I mean,
he was the first car to crest the mountain once I got off the trail. Weird.
He said he came late (1:20) figuring there was no way I would be through
before 2.  So we were both surprised.

Oh.  Just before I got off the trail - after I turned the last corner onto
the last switchback - I saw too deer on the trail 2 switchbacks above me.
We all stopped and stared at each other for a minute.  It was great.  Never
did see a bear (others did between Blue Mountain and Low Gap the day I
hiked it and the day before) but seeing the deer just seemed like a perfect
farewell to a pretty perfect trip and a great first outing into the world
of overnight backpacking.

I saw Davey a couple hours later at Walisi Yi when we drove up to Neels
Gap.  I did stop and talk this time - he was great - I still felt like a
newbie and he acted glad to have a *fellow hiker* to share the trail/tales
with.  ;-)  Moi??? ;-)  He confirmed the timings I had figured out from the
Blue Mountain Shelter journal and explained why he had been trying to catch
Hyena and Macchu Picchu.  If this weren't enough of a great trip - I spent
the next hour in Walisi Yi with Jeff explaining to me the peculiarities of
boots and my feet and things I will need to think about (with my special
challenges) when I do my thru-hike.  He intuitively understood all the
food/water/feet/stamina problems and encouraged me saying I would be ahead
of the average hiker who starts out not even know what his body needs. ;-)
I have an appointment to go back this fall and do some serious gear
business with him.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh,  Big sigh.  Well, that's it.  Until I think of something
else and then something else again.  You've been a great audience! ;-)
Thanks for the memories - and especially all the support and tips that made
me feel like I really could do this.  Cause, I did! ;-)

Already looking forward to the next trip...

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