05 September 2016

Chestnut Knob Shelter to Jenkins Shelter (AT Day 4, Fall 2016)

Appalachian Trail, 10.7 miles
Sunrise this morning from Chestnut Knob
I got up early, wished a happy birthday to Mr. Mary Poppins, and off I went.

Why do I do this? It was a ridiculously hard day, even though it was only slightly longer than yesterday. Huge of amount of rock-scrambling, which slowed me down immensely. I am guessing that more than seven of my eleven-ish miles were spent climbing over jagged rocks and boulders.

Plus knee probs. That descent from Chestnut Knob, plus the hours on end of rock-scrambling, made it quite a lot worse. At times it hurt so bad that I just had to sit down, right on the trail, with my pack still on, and sob a little. Okay yeah, I was giving in to the drama a little bit. But I really was huring. At every break I studied my data book, pondering where I could bail and hitchhike to a town if my knee just could not keep going.

Then I remembered: you have Advil, you daft girl! I carry a pretty robust first aid kit, including a supply of anti-inflammatories, in case I encounter anyone experiencing an "emergency on the trail." For the first time I realized I AM THE EMERGENCY! I swallowed two tablets in a hot second. That definitely took the edge off, but I'm still feeling some sensitivity. I could probably have sucked down a couple more tablets to get some real relief, but now that I know I actually NEED these things if I expect to live till Friday, I need to ration them a bit.

Jenkins shelter was such a welcome sight, and there is a stream here, yay! It feels so good to drink as much water as I want. I had to be super careful with my water consumption all day because almost the whole day was dry.

Still no evidence of poison ivy on my hand. I think I'm in the clear about that. It seems like it would have materialized by now.

I saw only three other hikers today, which seems weird for a holiday. (Today is Labor Day, right?) Right now I am the only one at this shelter and it looks like it will stay that way all night, since it's almost 6pm. This is slightly unnerving because there are a few ranger signs at the shelter, saying there have been "bear activities" here recently. Activities? I'm guessing they're not referring to knitting or square-dancing or euchre. I made sure to hang my food bag really well.

Speaking of food: I'm starting to have that problem where I can't adequately refuel myself because I feel sick at the thought of eating. I gagged a little when trying to eat a Clif bar today. It's so weird. Clif bars are something I would normally like, in real life at home. I think maybe I need to bring more salty foods or something. I did okay with tuna and crackers. Will have to remember that when I'm packing foods for my next hike.

My other task tonight, besides choking down dinner, was to cut up one of my dirty shirts and tie it into strips. I am going to use it as a knee brace tomorrow. Hopefully that helps. I think I will need it. Tomorrow is a long day: 13.5 miles. Luckily my feet are still feeling stable, and only slightly sore.

Edited at 7:30pm to add: A guy called Chris just showed up and his tenting here tonight. He is friendly enough but not very talkative and looks to be completely exhausted. He said he did a 19-mile day today. If I were him I wouldn't want to talk about it either. In any case, I'm glad to have a partner with whom to fight off bears if needed.

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