Today’s lesson children is humility.
Yesterday my plan called for 18.5 miles if my every other shelter strategy was to hold up. The real challenge wasn’t all the good stuff that happened in the morning, it was one big mountain immediately followed by a smaller one that came at the end of the day.
If the day’s exercise ended after the first mountain, all would have been hunky dory. I learned the 15 mile limit makes all the more sense after being off the trail for nearly two months.
When I awoke this morning to a landscape dusted in snow so ably predicted by mission control – thanks very much – I knew that last mountain, Bushy Peak, had done me in. Every muscle I have is sore.
Here’s the set up for my dramatic announcement. I met to southbounders yesterday who said there are six legit northbounders ahead. Most are at least two weeks ahead, but I should expect to see one of them at my intended destination, Knott Maul Shelter. And so he was, an affable 23-year-old student from Richmond, Va.
This morning we set out together. We had two steep climbs that proved significant. We both struggled. At one point I got hypoglycemic. Energy bar to the rescue.
We reached Chestnut Knob Shelter at 3 pm, two hours behind schedule. No chance of pushing on to the next shelter. As a bonus, it has a truly million dollar view so what’s not to like. The stone building even has a door, and used to house the fire wardens who manned the fire tower now long gone.
I did lot of thinking while shuffling of today’s hills. Nearly two months off was too much. 5,106 feet of elevation gain, not counting the small ups and downs, took an unexpected toll on my body. I need to cut back my pace until my body adjusts. After all, I’ve got the time. Look for 10 mile days for awhile.