Is the honeymoon over?

About a month ago, my friend Chris sent me a birthday card in the shape of a pickle, which – just for the record – is one of the best shapes for a birthday card since one can use it as a prop. For a good week, I was responding to a variety of people’s comments with, “Well, that seems like a big pickle,” aptly shaped card in hand. If you happen to be one of those people I used this gag on, stop rolling your eyes. It was funny; I’m sure of it. Anyway, in there Chris wrote that the honeymoon must be over by now, and I must be down to the hard work of hiking the Appalachian Trail.

At the time, I thought that Chris couldn’t be more wrong. I was only a handful of days into my hike and was still having a blast meeting new people and navigating new challenges. Then – not that I’m prone to over-thinking or anything – I mulled over the sentiment for a while and wondered when it would become true.

In the meantime, my friends and I pushed through some, um, messy weather in the Smokies and came out on the other end with sloshy gear and stories worth sharing.

20130413-165631.jpg

And, even after a long day of hiking, I always found myself in a warm place with a fire or, at the very least, a dry tent or shelter. What more could a hiker ask for?

20130413-171126.jpg

Oh, I know. How about a much-coveted clear view at Max Patch? Not two hours before I arrived, the grassy bald was fogged over and frosted in an icy coating. My friend Lentil arrived before me and can attest to it.

20130413-171535.jpg

Within a couple of days of enjoying the sunset at Max Patch, Zen and I strolled into Hot Springs, NC. The trail literally runs through this one-horse town. There are no traffic lights, but there is a laundromat, Dollar General, place to stay (we opted for Elmer’s Sunnybank Inn), and a diner. We joined Lentil and Techie, who’d arrived the night before.

Hanging out on one of the Sunnybank’s many porches, I got my first indication that the honeymoon might be coming to an end. I was planning on taking a Zero in town, as were Lentil and Zen, but Techie was antsy to get moving the following day. And I thought to myself, “I’d love to stick together, but I really want to relax in town.” And both Lentil and Zen had been talking about picking up mileage, which I thought might be beyond my capacity. I was first hit with a pang of sadness at the potential fissuring of our group, but then I realized that it might be time. We’d all provided support in the first miles and through the Smokies. And it’s not like we wouldn’t see each other again.

Once I arrived in Hot Springs, I met up with Peanut, who is still hiking the trail but pacing with a different group. Our chat about her experiences once she’d slowed down allowed me to accept that which might come.

Of course that was before the fire.

A couple of days later, Lentil and I headed out of Hot Springs to hike north. Techie’d left the afternoon before, and Zen lagged behind to tend to gear issues. That day we hiked 14.5 miles and were tracking to exceed that the following day. Seven miles in, I was excited that the day’s uphill was just about behind us. The rest of the day promised to be easy rolling downhills – fast miles.

Suddenly, Lentil – who usually paces faster than me, especially uphill – came hiking downhill in my direction. He said the US Forest Service was doing a control burn up ahead, and we couldn’t hike on. Our options were to hike back a mile to the nearest water source and camp or to be shuttled to an old fire road on the other side of the mountain. For hikers, who bring only enough food to hike from Point A to Point B, one thought immediately came to mind: Once again, something that could have been brought to my attention yesterday! (Adam Sandler reference, I’m pretty sure. Anyone?)

We ended up waiting about two hours for a shuttle to arrive, and then 45 minutes thereafter we were dumped in a parking lot and told to follow the old fire road.

20130413-175134.jpg

After traversing several deep river crossings and getting lost among a network of old road-trails, I couldn’t help but think that nobody from the Forest Service had actually hiked this route before EVER. Thanks, guys.

And yet, and yet, (barring the moment of panic at being lost) I’ve still had a smile on my face for the better part of a month+. It’s all part of the adventure, right?

Oh, I almost forgot to mention, then I got the plague – the AT plague, that is. No big deal. I promise.

The day after the fiasco with the control burn, Lentil and I hiked 18 miles to Bald Mountain Shelter. We’d heard of several shelters in about a 25 mile stretch contaminated with the norovirus (think cruise ships), so we’d hoped to avoid those spots. However, a bad thunderstorm was blowing in, so we had to find cover.

When we rolled up to the shelter at 6pm, someone was inside his sleeping bag shivering with nausea and discomfort. Apparently, this guy had arrived and began feeling sick within five minutes. Ooook, let’s not hang out in the shelter. Instead, we each set up our tents, ate dinner, and hunkered down.

At 9:30, I was listening to music and journaling when I stopped being able to process thought, turned off the phone, and promptly passed out. I spent the rest of the night waking up, vomiting, and shivering myself back to sleep. By 9am, it had passed.

20130413-183356.jpg

20130413-181624.jpg

And, well, what was there to do but hike on? Lentil and I packed up camp and hiked over 16 miles to get to Erwin, TN. I can’t say it was the best day of hiking. In fact, I’ll be honest and admit that, for the first time in over a month, I arrived at my destination without a smile on my face So, maybe the honeymoon is over.

Hm, but then again, what’s a honeymoon without a little stomach bug?

Meandering on,

Jordana

Advertisements

12 thoughts on “Is the honeymoon over?

  1. I don’t see how the honeymoon could be over when there’s something new and exciting to experience everyday. You never really know what to expect. But then again there could be a longing for the comfort of knowing what each day holds. I have no idea because I’ve never done anything so adventurous, if you don’t count motherhood! Talk about never knowing what to expect! Anyway, I’m glad you’re feeling better and I hope you enjoy every day to the fullest!

    Julie

    • hi jordan……happy trails!!!sorry about the virus…who would have thunk that a “cruise virus” made it all the way into the at!!!!!that in itself would have made it my worst day. my child within and the old woman outside wish you a wonderful day….wishing you much trail magic headed your way……..marda roberts,morningstar………until the next blog

  2. With each step comes something new, whether it be friendly or foe. You are on an adventure of a life time and the honeymoon will be over many different times! However, each time you wake and start facing the days challenges you might find that without this adventure you would no longer be complete and that it is so very worth the push. I am absolutely loving reading of your adventures. Happy hiking and keep smiling 🙂

  3. What is a honeymoon but a breaking in period. After which it just keeps getting better, ask any maried person! Sounds like you have the pace and pals worked out fine. Keep the pictures coming.

  4. There you are! was starting to wonder if you were broken down on the trail. Bummer you got the virus, I know how you feel, It is nasty. How is all of your gear holding up, and kind of wondering how all of your food choices are working out?

  5. I was reading in our news paper the other day of the stomach virus afflicting hikers on the AT and thought of you. Was hoping you had made it through the area before getting it. Sorry you didn’t 😦

  6. Yes, Adam Sandler, the day after he gets left at the altar in The Wedding Singer. I’m a sucker for any 80’s flick….because I’m old, lol. Nothing like a stomach bug to kill ANY honeymoon! I’m sure hiking the AT is like marriage….periods where you’re in love, periods of toleration, and periods of “why the hell did I do this again??”. You’ll fall in love again, I’m sure of it. Glad the bug has passed, hang in there!

  7. You are a trooper! Sick and yet hiking it off the next day. Wow! Sorry to hear you got sick but happy to know you are feeling strong and smiley – still 🙂

  8. I wondered if something was amiss when you didn’t post for a few days. A huge detour AND the flu – Yuck 😦 Glad to hear you’re back on the trail. Take care and God bless!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s