appalachian trail

AT Journals: Muskrat Creek Shelter to Betty Creek Gap Camp

Total miles: 16.1 including water stops

I have never smelled so bad in my life. So I was the second one to leave the shelter camp this morning because I needed to get away from the crowd of people at Muskrat Creek. I have a black eye and was feeling ugly and gross. Nothing strips away your vanity faster than hanging out with a bunch of dudes when your face is messed up, your hair is out of control, and you smell like death. After yesterday I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel, and let me tell you, as pretty and rolling as the first several miles were today, I hit some kind of wall. The woods were covered in ferns and we were walking through burned areas that were freshly growing again. Parts of the way were more technical with boulders and rocks and roots galore. My legs were moving, but functioning is as much as I can call it.

I ran into a trail maintenance crew, and I can’t tell you how thankful I am for the work these crews do. With the amount of use the AT experiences, this work is essential. I was surprised by the number of older people working in the crew, and remembered that the ATC has been asking for younger people to get involved. All I can say is THANK YOU so much for making this footpath a safer place to traverse.

The biggest climb of the day was Standing Indian Mountain and it was a pleasant stroll compared to yesterday’s climb. I pumped the tunes and made it up to the summit where a magnificent view lay before me. There was a small group up there but they kept to themselves and I sprawled out for lunch finally basking in a scene I’d been aching to see for days. I didn’t realize at this point that I was ahead of the guys because Big Red had passed me on the way up the mountain.

People become fast friends out here. So yesterday morning, Big Red Met the two Jason’s, one from Denver, one from Fort Worth. They’re thru hikers. Then I met them on the way and we got to talking and realized we were all going to the same place. Then last night we picked up David at the shelter, he’s 25 and is killing all of us on speed.

So I got off the mountain after lunch and continued the leisurely stroll down to the next gap. Today was gorgeous, sunny, breezy, some great views. But still, I was dying. It didn’t matter what I ate, my energy was zapped and I was just moving on autopilot.

About 10 miles in, I got to a stream that was actually flowing!!! Water has been scarce out here and I’ve had to fill up on literal trickles of water. What you do is find a good, wide, flat leaf and position it in a spot where the water is just dripping down the face of a rock. The leaf acts as a stile and allows you to get water into a bottle. Some of the water sources aren’t deep enough to put a hand into. So when I saw this stream I immediately dropped everything and washed my face and my hands and just reveled in the coolness. I was finally able to soak and remove the crusty scabs off my nose and there is pink, healing skin under there! I filtered water and watched salamanders and crayfish hanging out in a little pool. Soon, the Jasons came by and we hung out and talked about the water situation at the camp tonight, which was supposedly not good.

While we were talking, this gorgeous woman plops down in the dirt and introduces herself as Foxtrot. She thru hiked the trail in 2016 and was out here to do 50 miles in 2 days. I talked to her for a while because I was so excited to see another solo woman.

I felt revived after the water and socialization, so I kept my head down for the remaining miles, sat by another view for awhile, and headed into camp. David was there already and we scouted out a place where 4 tents and a hammock would work well near each other. The other guys came in and we all got water and set up camp. We’re on the same schedule until I get off the trail and I now get the whole trail family thing. I had originally been super resistant to this because I’m such an introvert and am so bad at small talk. It happens so quickly though. You meet people, start talking about your lives, and before you know it, you have inside jokes, are making fun of each other, and are friends.

Tonight we all cooked together and then had the bear hang olympics. Big Red and I showed them the PCT hang, because we’re obviously experts at this point, and then the games began. There is nothing more hysterical than watching people try to throw a rope over a high branch. Everyone sucks at it. There are no exceptions! We were all dying. This is what entertainment looks like without television.

After waiting way too long to get a GPS signal to send messages to loved ones in what was affectionately known as the Garmin Graveyard or Garmin Stonehenge, we all turned in and tried not to be too excited about going to town tomorrow.

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