Avoiding stink bugs at Dick’s Dome Shelter
Some days you get the bears, and some days the bears get you.
Day nine of my hike was the most difficult. Hard rocks (Aren’t they all?) punctuated most of the day and I had a lot of miles to log. A little bit of serendipity want a long way, and on balance, I got is good as I gave.
If you read my blog post on music, you know that I’ve given it a lot of attention. Three times on day nine, music lifted my spirits and lightened my load.
The first musical magic was Willy Nelson singing “A Little Bit of Karma” just as the trail leveled out after a long steep climb. I muttered a weary thanks to Karma, my 2013 thru hiker friend, for her kindly intervention. This woman has certain super powers. Could she be a saint, I wondered? Then, just as soon as the song finished, the trail turned upward again.
Not much later, John Denver crooned “Country Roads” just as the blue hills of West Virginia hung on the horizon. I sang along. After all, West Virginia was destination and it would be “almost heaven” when I got there.
Better yet, a couple of hours later, as I worked my way up Pass Mountain with twilight close behind, Hanna Montana uplifted my stride with “The Climb.” Music saved the day.
Needless to say, after day nine, my feet ached, but not as much as they might have. My podiatrist made me special orthotics to protect against plantar fasciitis. They are worth the investment. They did need an adjustment to widen the heel cup on the left one. Once it’s back from the lab, I’ll be back agitating AT gravel.
The first thing I heard a southbounder complained about was stink bugs. This surprised me because I didn’t recall anyone complaining about them on Trail Journals. The further north I got, the more prevalent these nosy pests became.
When I reached the Tom Floyd shelter at mid day, hundreds of them had taken up residence. A day later I set my tent up inside Dick’s Dome so I could get a peaceful night’s sleep. Precautions aside, a couple of dead ones fell out of my pack as I emptied it back home. I’ve got a bad feeling about these guys fellow fourteeners.
Electronics and storage batteries became a challenge. My 10.5 amp hour storage battery failed for the second time. I had to heavily ration my phone and iPod batteries. I did get to charge them at waysides and Bear’s Den. However, I wasn’t able to blog or take many photos with my phone, or listen to my iPod except for an hour or two at night. I’m working on the fix.
Phone battery hell. Temps around 40 on the first few mornings played hell with my phone battery, cutting the charge from 50 percent to zero. I was surprised at this level of sensitivity to cold. All I had to do was warm it back up, but figuring out how to keep it next to my body in the much colder temps next spring is a must. Batteries like to be comfortable.
Last, my wife and I developed a system for staying in touch, not knowing how reliable phone service or email might be. At each opportunity I texted her the AWOL guide NOBO mileage number as I passed landmarks and had phone service. A simple 968.3 was easier to get through on one bar than something more complicated. While I couldn’t always text my final daily location, we never went more that 12 hours being out of touch.