I started this blog post around a month ago and fully intended to keep it short and sweet and get it up and on the internets before heading out to Burning Man.
I got a bit overwhelmed and, well, it didn't happen.
So the experience that was so fresh and new in my mind is now a bit stale and foggy from time lapsed and lots of driving and dust.
But I'll do my best to piece it together aided by prompts from Facebook posts made around the time of our trek.
August 10 · Atlanta, GA ·
It's getting more than real; all those tats; I'm ready to scratch my leg off, starting Wednesday morn I hit the Appalachian Trail (with Skye) , which is beyond cool and awesome; we get back on Sunday and then I've got five days to get my stuff together so that we can load up on Saturday and head out Sunday for Burning Man
August 11 · Atlanta, GA ·
Laundry, packing for Appalacian Trail 5 day backpack trip (we leave 5:30 tomorrow morn) new toys, Burning Man meeting in a couple of hours, yikesy....
August 15 at 3:03pm · Atlanta, GA ·
Back a couple days early from the Appalachian Trail adventure; unpacking from that while still unpacking from our latest West Coast 4 week journey, and still sorting out work stuff from the last job I finished cleaning over a month ago and sorting and packing to leave for Burning Man in a week; a nomad's life for me....
I love backpacking.
Skye loves backpacking.
And it was great to be back on the Appalachian Trail for an ambitious 5 day jaunt of some 37 miles; starting at Dick's Creek Gap and finishing up at Wallace Gap in North Carolina.
However, Skye was feeling a bit under the weather fighting off a cold and I was ready to scratch off my leg because of all the tattoos I'd just layered my calf with. Not to mention how preoccupied I was with preparing for Burning Man.
The good thing about hiking is how in the moment and present it oftentimes forces and/or allows you to be.
That said when the trail is not demanding and the scenery gets repetitive, there is a lot of time to think.
On these trail adventures, our hike-master trip coordinator asks that we bring a poem to share around the camp-fire at night.
Although I never did end up reading it, (our trip was shortened by a couple of days and our scintialting camp-fire conversations ended up not leaving much time for the sharing of poetry) however it was quite curious and fortuitous the poem that I had brought and was prepared to butcher with my unpracticed reading.
It was To a Mouse by Robert Burns, which would inspire or at least serve as the title for the more famous Steinbeck classic, Of Mice and Men.
To a Mouse
BY ROBERT BURNS
On Turning up in Her Nest with the Plough, November, 1785
Wee, sleeket, cowran, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi’ bickerin brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee
Wi’ murd’ring pattle!
I’m truly sorry Man’s dominion
Has broken Nature’s social union,
An’ justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle,
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen-icker in a thrave
’S a sma’ request:
I’ll get a blessin wi’ the lave,
An’ never miss ’t!
Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!
It’s silly wa’s the win’s are strewin!
An’ naething, now, to big a new ane,
O’ foggage green!
An’ bleak December’s winds ensuin,
Baith snell an’ keen!
Thou saw the fields laid bare an’ waste,
An’ weary Winter comin fast,
An’ cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro’ thy cell.
That wee-bit heap o’ leaves an’ stibble
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
Now thou’s turn’d out, for a’ thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the Winter’s sleety dribble,
An’ cranreuch cauld!
But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!
Still, thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But Och! I backward cast my e’e,
On prospects drear!
An’ forward tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!
As it turned out, we ended up engaging with mice each and every night.
The first night when I opted to sleep in the shelter and not bother putting up a tent, a little mouse was scurrying all about the shelter and successfully raided someone's backpack before we had a chance to hang the food and snacks up in the bear hang, which by the way is not mouse-proof.
I found this out the hard way. The next morning my compression sack which was hung some 12 feet plus above the ground was gnawed through and a bunch of my GORP was sacked by these furry vermin.
The following night, I decided to sleep in my tent because of the mouse infestation at that night's shelter. We had several backpacks as well as the food up in the bear hang raided that night. One unfortunate critter drowned in one of our water buckets that we had left hanging on the bench. Must have fallen in and couldn't get back out.
And then there was the snake.....
I would have never seen this not so small rattlesnake had he not started rattling as we passed him.
At first we thought it as cicada, but then we realized that was not what we were hearing. I hiked back towards the sound and saw this not so happy serpent giving us a warning to stay away.
I was very tempted to get closer for a better picture but at the urging of my backpacking partner and the fact that we were pretty far away from any medical help I had to be content with shots from afar.
We crossed the Georgia-North Carolina border. A couple of our trail-mates had successfully completed all of the Appalachian Trail within Georgia. Skye and I have various segments to complete before being able to make that statement.
Nonetheless it was fun crossing a state to state border on foot after driving across so many of them in the last several years.
As it would turn out, this would be our last day on the trail. We had set out to do 5 days and cut it short by two because we realized we had no chance in making the miles and two of our hikers were struggling with illness, Skye being one of them.
I was a tiny bit disappointed but more relieved because of all the things I had on my plate, not to mention the condition of my leg.
It was a wonderful short excursion and getting back early did indeed take some of the pressure of my already too crammed-up schedule.