Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Appalachian Trail: Part II

Despite the fact that I was the last to go to sleep, I awoke at around 5:40am, a good deal before everyone else. I never sleep long outside. I got up and wandered around the campsite, checking my bag and getting situated for the coming day, as it was to be a long one.

Breakfast was Ramen with a small can of cream-of-something soup mixed in and bread with hot Thai peanut sauce. It may seem monotonous on paper, but good food is a blessing on the trail. As I was the first to rise, Nathan was the last. So we hung around until everyone else had left. I felt like we were the only ones who weren't "real" thru-hikers, but we counted our share of paces in the journey. Not long after the scout leader and his last underling trailed their group up the mountain, we lit out up the path, a little more accustomed to walking in cruise control and wondering what the day would bring. Strangely, the trail brought nothing. No thru-hikers crossed our path. In fact, nobody crossed our path. From Peck's Corner to Charlie's Bunion, it was only the trail and the scenery along the Carolina spine of the Appalachians. A cool azure breeze carried us over every step from Laurel Top to the Sawteeth - and past that almost-Alpine field of bramble and grass on the nape of the mountainside east of the Sawteeth's jagged peak. The first people we saw were a few day-hikers at Charlie's Bunion. Among them, a nearly familiar face came out onto the bluff where we lunched on beans and bread and took a nap on the rocks to attempt futile escape from the gnats. It was surprisingly cold in the wind out on the bluff. We left and trekked the mile to Icewater Spring to refill our bottles in the high-mountain water untouched by impurity. The coolness was more than welcome, and as we sat in the shade guzzling down spring water, and I prayed that it was as pure as it tasted, the familiar face came back up the trail toward us. John Michalak, and his wife Zolla were out for a day-hike to Charlie's Bunion - I think, by divine appointment. The face of a friend after a long journey was almost as good as seeing home rising up from the distance. We had met John at a retreat to Fall Creek Falls with several artists and folks involved with New City Cafe. And he had played recently at the singer/songwriter competition that I had taken part in as well. After a good reintroduction and a refill, we went along together for the short remainder of the trip. I have never been so happy to get my shoes off. And to sit down. And to bathe and sleep in a bed. But the experience is one I hope to repeat at some point soon, as it was well worth the difficulty in more ways than I can measure.

I've been trying to beat an acute case of writer's block that seems to have befallen me. So, I'll be attempting to write here on a more regular basis, and yes, I do know that every occasional blogger has said that and meant it. But to keep myself writing and keep my mind sharp, practice must be put into effect. When asked whether he wrote every day or waited for inspiration, William Faulkner answered, "I wait for inspiration. But I make sure inspiration comes every morning at 10 o'clock when I sit down at my desk."


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