24 June 2015

Iron Mountain Shelter to Double Springs Shelter

Appalachian Trail, 7.6 miles

Finally a gentler day. Short and not much elevation gain. Despite the ease, I’ve developed a small blister on my left heel, so I babied my feet a bit today by going slower.

A mile or so into today’s hike, we passed a grave (!) along the trail - certainly not the kind of thing you see every day while hiking. A tombstone marks the burial place of Nick Grindstaff, a man who lived his last 40 years in this region as a hermit. Legend says that he was kept company only by his dog, a steer, and a pet rattlesnake. His tombstone’s inscription is rather morose: “Lived alone, suffered alone, and died alone.”

The trail also passed through a cow pasture today and it was oddly refreshing to step out of the woods into a big open space with no trees or rocks - just lots of grassy open hills (and plenty of cowpies). The cows were only mildly curious about the humans hiking past them.

A fence-hop was built into the trail as a way for hikers to get into and out of the cows’ fence (without letting the cows out).

We arrived at Double Springs Shelter in time for lunch, and it was Thai day at the Wheeler Bistro. Tim had a Thai peanut noodle dish, and I had Thai tuna. It was the best tuna I ever tasted. I am so happy my appetite is working properly on this trip! In previous trips I have had such a hard time refueling, because I seemed always plagued by a low-grade nauseous feeling, and no food ever seemed appetizing. I talked to a nutritionist about it a few months ago, and she suggested I eat a couple of dates and almonds every few hours while hiking (even if I’m not hungry), just to keep the pipes busy. It has helped a lot. I’ve had almost no nausea, and in fact right now I’m really jonesing for some fish tacos from Hey Joe’s in Damascus. Which is where we plan to eat our first “real” food after the trip is over.

Tonight we feel very spoiled to have a campsite right next to a spring. It is such a luxury to finally have as much water as we want. Tim even carved out a little pool downstream where we could soak our feet in the icy-cold water.

There is no cell service where we are tonight. Which is disturbing because Tim received a cryptic text message from Jay and we are not able to reach him to figure out what he meant. It said “I trust Jeanette told you about Matt.” (Matt is my nephew.) I have no idea what that means, but Jay apparently sent me a message about Matt that I didn’t receive yet because the cell signal is so poor, and I’m worried that something bad has happened to him. :( I’m trying not to think about it until we can reach a place where we can call someone and get clarification.

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