Standing Bear Farm to Painter Branch
Miles Hiked: 2.2
AT Milage: 243.7
This morning I woke up in the bunk house and finished up my blogging from the day before. I really enjoy keeping a trail journal but it is a lot of work sometimes. I always try to write down everything before I fall asleep because otherwise it won’t get done at all. I’ve never kept an extensive journal such as this one for very long. I find it difficult to hold my self accountable and be self disciplined with writing.
While everyone was eating breakfast I decided to get my laundry done. This means using the old fashioned washboard in a sink with a bar of soap and then hanging things up to dry. I only washed my socks and underwear because they were the dirtiest things I own. Everything else could benefit more from a washer or dryer. I was very thankful for the washing board because a washing machine would not have done my socks much good at all. The dirt is caked on so thick on my socks that they absolutely need to be hand scrubbed with an abrasive to become fully clean. Every time I have put them in a washer so far they still come out significantly dirty. After I washed my clothes I bought a giant bottle of lemonade and trail mix for breakfast. In retrospect I should have taken advantage of the nice food but I wasn’t sure where everyone was getting it from. Most of the food at this place is expired which doesn’t matter for the majority of items sold but I didn’t want to buy any month old yogurt or other cold items from the fridge.
I originally planned on taking a zero today but it was super hard to watch all the other hikers leave. Everyone was going to camp on Max Patch tonight, a 13 mile walk from the hostel and a location on trail I’ve been looking forward to seeing for a long time. Max Patch is an expansive bald with beautiful camping if the weather is nice. Even if Max Patch wasn’t close, getting back on trail is extremely tempting for me. I like to spend as little time in town or civilization as possible because it just leads to spending more money. I decided to hang around the hostel all day and then hike two miles north on the trail to a campsite next to a creek. This would allow me to get back on trail, avoid spending money, and hopefully camp alone for the first time. Being in the woods alone in the dark, specifically camping, is my biggest fear. I have never camped alone in my whole life before but it’s one thing I want to do at least once on trail and get used to doing for later adventures in life.
So I hung out at the hostel all day. I added the pictures to my blog and published all my posts which took a really long time. I have to wait until I have good service or WiFi to put the pictures on my blog and it’s really annoying. The hostel had many books laying around so I read some of them. I was mostly interested in the ones about the A.T. and Smoky Mountains. I found one book about a man thru hiking the Buckeye Trail in Ohio. I would like to get my own copy to finish reading it. Many people have been carrying books on trail and I wish I had chosen at least one to bring and read. I just don’t want it to be a book I’m attached to because I will want to mail it home. It would be a lot easier to burn the book like some people or leave it for another person at a hostel. The hostel also had copies of the “AT Hiker Yearbook” (I think that’s what it’s called). The creator of the yearbook travels up and down the trail during the hiking season to get pictures of people and you can also submit some online. I loved looking through all the stories of hikers in the previous years. I found pictures of Pongo and Rockslide from their previous thru hikes and pictures of Onesimus doing trail magic.
Other than reading, I got to hang out with Ethan some more and get to know him better. He graduated in general studies from UConn a year ago and enjoys doing farm work a lot. Sometimes hostels will offer a work for stay. This means that a hiker will do some labor for the hostel in exchange for a free bed for the night. Ethan was taking advantage of this for the second day in a row. He cleaned the entire hostel kitchen and dishes several times as well as helping move some dirt and rocks around for various projects going on. He has a trac phone and carries a journal with him. He seems so free from human distractions and temptations because of this and I’m slightly jealous. I know he gave up having a smart phone but I’m not sure how long ago. I might decide to go a week on the trail without using my phone except for pictures and writing drafts of posts for my blog to see how it feels. After I leave today I’m not sure when I will see Ethan again because he hikes pretty fast and I’m about to have to slow down because my sister is joining me and I have to go home for a wedding. Ethan was given the trail name “cucumber” last night. I’m not sure if he is gonna let it stick or not but time will tell!
Before I left the hostel I resupplied my food for two days and tallied up my tab. The food I bought was absolute junk with no nutritional value other than a large amount of calories. I need to find a way to eat better/ healthier on trail but it’s difficult when I choose not to have a stove, need to eat a large amount of food, and have no way to keep anything fresh. Even though they are really heavy I might try to get some avocados soon. If anyone has some healthier stove-less trail food suggestions, leave them in the comments below. I’m been surviving mostly off of granola bars, snickers, tuna, and cheese.
Around 3:30 I finally left the hostel. It was a completely uphill hike to my camping spot. I set up my tent fully expecting to be alone. Then Kentucky and another hiker named Alice came and set up their tents about 100 yards away. I guess I will have to save camping alone for another day.
If anyone has anything they would like to hear more about as far as daily trail life or an itching question please leave a comment! I will try to address it in a future blog post. If you have a suggestion about how to improve my blog or writing please tell me that as well. I love all the comments and feedback that people are leaving. Thank you all SO much for reading. I was inspired to start an online trail journal/ blog after reading Erin “Wired” Saver’s blog called “walkingwithwired.com”. She is a hiker that I look up to and relate to a lot. I hope one day for my blog to be professionally developed the way hers is. One step at a time for now. I am taking in every moment of this hike as it happens. I don’t want to worry about my blog logistics too much until I am off trail. I highly suggest going to check out her page if you are interested. Sadly she just “retired” from thru hiking and keeping her blog updated this year, but I learned a great deal about what the AT would be like for me, from her. One day I hope to run into her on a hike.