These are just little tidbits I have jotted down in my journal that don’t make a full blog post but are a part of our lives none the less.
Bugs- As spring blooms eternal bugs boom externally. Mosquitos drone around your ears, tiny fighter planes equipt with stinging missiles, swooping in and somehow swooping away before you can make the kill. No-see-ums are white blurs, hovering right in front of your face until they are suddenly, and apparently completely against their will, sucked into your eyes rendering you blind and stumbling. Gnats on the other hand are eye-ear-nostril kamikaze dive bombers, striking with precision and surprising force. Someone always invites the ants, every different size and type of ant, to our snack breaks. While we are hiking I feel like Catharine Zeta Jones from Entrapment as I dodge spider webs that are laser beaming the trail. I fail miserably and end up covered from head to toe in them, trailing them behind me like a kid dressed up for Halloween as a mummy, only instead of toilet paper I am wrapped in creepy crawly silk string. Meanwhile every piece of grass that brushes my legs sends me looking for ticks, those foul little creatures that seem to move crab like up your leg until they decide to embed themselves in your skin, a blood sucking hitch hiker that will ride you all the way to Maine. But surprisingly the worst is the cicadas. A lot of people can’t stand the noise they make but that’s not the problem, I like the sound, like nature’s ambient white noise. Cicadas, in their nymph stage, are the zombie of the bug world. They emerge from their hole and stagger across the leaves and dirt looking for something to climb up so they can shed their exoskeletons and emerge as adults. If they had arms they would be holding them out in front of them, walking stiff-legged, fingers grasping, dead unseeing eyes… scrabbling right up the side of our tent,their frozen hardened legs scratching at the fabric. It’s a bugs life out there.
Extra walking- The people we meet in towns must sometimes be dumbfounded by our resistance to walking. We wont walk two miles into town, we don’t really want to walk a few blocks to a restaurant or a grocery store. Sometimes I am tempted to hitch hike down the street. But if only they knew. On trail if we see that a shelter or a water source is 0.5 or 0.6 off the trail we simply can’t go there. You walk seventeen or eighteen miles a day and see if you want to add extra mileage to that number.
Snoring- The other day we were walking along and Kyle said, “So that guy last night with sleep apathy”. I had to correct him, but seriously, sleep apnea is a problem on the trail. There are some prolific snorers out here. People that will shake the shelter, compose orchestras within their nasal cavities, keep you hanging on their every exhale. When they go quite you think they have died. We often try to recreate the noises we hear at night but we are clearly missing some body part or our anatomy is different. It is impossible to make the noises we hear in the shelters.
Murders- People have been killed on the trail, not many, no more than the average small town. We had started to settle into a shelter one night when another hiker rolled in, lit up a cigarette and the first words out of his mouth were, “You know, not to ruin the mood or anything, but this is the shelter where those two girls were killed. Yeah, the murderer claims to have buried the bodies in a shallow grave but the bodies were never found. People say there are ghosts. Last time I hiked the trail I was staying here and in the middle of the night I looked out and saw red eyes over there.” Great. Of course I managed to forget all about the hiker ghosts until right before I fell asleep. Then I couldn’t fall asleep for hours, until finally my logic kicked in and I remembered that hiker ghosts wouldn’t want to hurt other hikers! They would probably want to protect us and hurt murderers! With this comforting thought I fell asleep, my guardian hiker ghosts watching over me.