Miles Hiked: 7.2
Miles Left: 1989.3
Ending Location: Double Spring Gap Shelter
One thing that amazes me is that I seem to get dirtier when sleeping in shelters vs camping. There’s always a layer of dirt and dust that covers everything and it’s harder to give yourself a hiker bath, (rubbing yourself with hand wipes). Getting changed into your camp clothing is trickier too, (though I am getting more adapt at changing in my sleeping bag), and B and I are usually the last people in to camp so everything seems rushed.
This is another way of me saying that three days into the Smokies I’m feeling filthy despite the fact that it has been absolutely beautiful weather.
I really need to stop referring to Brian as B and instead use his trail name of Owl. As for me, I’ve fully settled on going by Scrambles. Other variations like scramble or scrambler were suggested but I figure Scrambles is the hardest to take seriously which is why I like it.
Dundee hiked with us again today but no boars were seen which we all agreed was a good thing. We did stumble across a couple shooting topless photos on the summit of one of the mountains though. It just goes to show that you never know what to expect on the AT and we amused ourselves for the next hour batting back and forth various inappropriate URL names for those photo shoots.
I love saying that 7.2 miles was a short day, (our hiker legs are starting to come in), so it was a rare treat that we arrived at the shelter early in the afternoon. The shelter also had a privy so Owl left to make use of it and I started texting with my girlfriend. All of a sudden I heard Owl screaming! I jumped up and was about to run over thinking that a bear or a boar was attacking him when he yelled out, “Poo squirrel!!!!!” I then proceeded to sit back down and continued to text with my girlfriend since there was no part of that scenario I wanted to be involved in. It turns out a squirrel had run out of the privy hole when B opened up the door. Did I mention that the AT is full of surprises?
Later in the afternoon another guided spring break group showed up and started getting settled in. This bunch was from the University of South Florida and they had a whole different setup from the Notre Dame crew. They were only doing about four/five miles a day and the amount of food they were carrying was staggering. They had leftover pizza from lunch which they gladly shared, they cooked turkey and stuffing and gravy for dinner which they also shared, and (spoiler alert), the next morning they cooked us blueberry pancakes! At the end we were getting acclimated to all the free food just like a bear that makes its living raiding campsites.
The food was much appreciated by everyone. “Everyone” turned into a pretty big group as more and more through hikers showed up. This was the last shelter before Clingman’s dome and a natural stopping place so as the shelter filled up tents started popping up everywhere. A lot of the hikers I hadn’t met before so as the students got a fire going, (for s’mores of course!) it was fun hearing everyone’s stories.
After seeing three, (ok four but one was going to a different campsite), spring break groups one thing that struck me was that as a whole guys do not choose to go on guided backpacking trips during spring break. Pro tip: If you are a college guy, you really want to go on a guided backpacking trip for spring break! It reminded me of the BOW, (Becoming Outdoor Women), retreats that Owl’s wife Theresa goes on. At them they teach people how to do things like properly shoot a rifle, fish, whitewater raft, build an ice shelter, prepare game animals, and all sorts of other cool skills. Heck Theresa’s skinned a bear, how hardcore is that?! Both Owl and I would love to do something like that but there’s no guy or mixed gender version of BOW classes that we know of. When Theresa asked the instructors about it they replied that there isn’t much demand since most guys assume they know everything already, and if guys do show up one or two always cause problems because they get in pissing matches with the instructors. Come to think of it, that was our experience when we took the wilderness first aid classes too with it being mostly women and a couple of the guys causing problems. So Pro Tip #2: if you are in the wild make sure you pay attention to advice given to you by girls since they are more likely to have formal training and know more about what they are talking about than the guys.
Brian’s new hiker name: squirrel. Also: love your advice about listening to the ladies. Liz and Theresa are good influences on you.