Wed, July 31
It’s a less hot day than day 1, there’s a thunderstorm, and I have my first solo “stealth” camping experience on the AT.
I wake up at a leisurely 8 or 9am after a tumultuous and hot night sleep sticking to my sleeping pad and sweating in my 40 degree quilt. Apparently everyone has a liner out here and just uses that. I join the others for my breakfast of oatmeal and granola and Alpine start coffee. I pack up and filter water and leave camp after Tumbledoor and Ridge Runner.
Humid east coast hiking. And many bugs. A mere 3.7 miles to the Appalachian Market where I stock up on a few more snacks and eat a real breakfast sandwich, chips, cheese, and Powerade. So full. No hiker hunger yet. I talk with Jared on the phone as I hike on. Pass a young hiker guy named Spicy. The hilly ups and downs of New York.
Quite warm. No-seeums dive-bombe my eyes like miniature kamikaze pilots. Pass some SOBO hikers. View break. I fiter water and chat with a southbound hiker who tells me about a good stealth camp site ahead. Thunderstorms are brewing. Fruit snack break. I check the weather – tstorms in 15 minutes! I toss up my tent and dive inside as the first drops fall. Plan the section ahead, meditate, and write while I wait. At 4:30 the coast is clear and I hike on.
After a short while I pass a really old guy who at his camp and has duct taped shoes. I set up camp by myself in a small mossy clearing atop a hill at an unofficial campsite off trail, what AT hikers call a “stealth” camp. Broccoli-cheddar soup and trail mix for dinner. The Appalachian Trail feels much friendlier than the Arizona Trail – well, at least I have no anxiety when solo camping in comparison. The wildlife here seems to be limited to noisy squirrels throwing acorns down from trees – relative to the herds of bounding deer, bugling elks, and the occasional bison on trail in Arizona. I listen to some podcasts and go to sleep around 8.