Over 800 miles. 65 nights. That's how long I've been out here. We celebrated our two month anniversary a couple days ago, and I feel like we did a good job with it. It involved calzones, hotel beds, and an entire ice cream cake which we did not bother cutting into slices.
It takes about this long to finally feel like you know how to be homeless and live in the woods. It takes about this long to lose all sense of social norms. It takes about this long to have an idea of wether you can make it to Katahdin or not. Thanks to the people I have met and the things I have learned, I like my chances.
Here are a few things I have noticed or realized in the past month of hiking.
The woods make weird sounds at night, and owls sound like monkeys.
North Carolina had an absurd amount of crickets. As soon as we crossed the state line, the crickets disappeared. I can't explain that one.
There are parts of my legs where the hair is gone. I couldn't figure it out for the longest time and then I realized it was from sitting indian style so much. I guess I haven't sat like that very much since kindergarten.
Speaking of legs... My legs are huge. I brought some long johns with me. At the beginning of the trip they were a little loose. Now I have to stretch and pull to get them over my calf and thigh muscles. They are skin tight. I mean I didn't know calves were even supposed to look like this....
My beard is getting super long. I now make a point of shampooing it. And if I find conditioner.... Wow, it feels great.
There have been more animal sighting lately. So far I have seen 3 bears (5 if you count while driving in a car around Gatlinburg), 50 deer (including 2 little baby Bambi's with spots and all), 1 turtle, 2 bunnies, 5 snakes (no rattlers), and 1,628,283,378 flying, biting insects.
My sense of smell has improved dramatically. Maybe it's just more in tune with my surroundings, but I can smell the faintest fragrances in the air. I can smell fires from half a mile away. I can smell food from any distance. I can smell day hikers before they turn the corner in the trail. And I can smell the most amazing smelling flowers when walking through the woods.
Not having anything to do all day but hike may sound like you have a ton of free time, but I have found that I have almost no free time at all. There are so many things to do when you get to camp or towns. Going to bed at 9:00 doesn't help with the free time either, but I'm exhausted by the time it's dark. One thing you do have time for is thinking. You have almost unlimited time for thinking. It's basically the only thing you can do while simultaneously hiking. I enjoy it tremendously. Although I need a break from myself every once in a while.
Having really close friends on the trail is amazing. It's weird though to not know their names. Everyone goes by trail names so it's funny to have people that you consider family around you everyday and not actually know their name. It works though. I love the people I have met out here.
2 months down and hopefully a few more to go. Headed into Shenandoah National Park now.