Trail Shenanigan's Part 1 (Poop Trowel Battle)

It has been four weeks since my last post...(I feel like I am in a confession booth) and for a good reason.  I have been preparing my body and mind for the daunting task of tackling the Appalachian Trail for a second year in a row with my husband on our anniversary.  We get wild ideas like this for 'fun' every once in a while and then we subject ourselves to the task of carrying the ideas out.  Last year we hiked the Appalachian trail in Georgia with hopes of putting in on the approach trail before Springer Mountain.  Once we arrived in Georgia, a treacherous storm with massive flooding and trail washout put a stop to that idea, so we spent the first 3 days of our trip drinking a lot of Georgia wine, which is horrid, and eating a lot of southern comfort food which is divine.  After far too much bad wine, we finally had the bright idea to scrap the approach trail idea and went in favor of climbing the highest peak on the AT in Georgia instead, Blood Mountain. 

Until I meet a more treacherous part of the Appalachian Trail, I will compare each trip we do to the "church steps" that was the AT on the trail that leads to Blood Mountain in Georgia.  Imagine if you will spending 8 to 9 hours on a stair master at the gym with a 30-35 pound weight strapped to your waist and shoulders...and then intermittently climbing with hands and feet up rock faces, because that is what the trail was, and that, my friend, is what hiking up to Blood Mountain in Georgia is like. 

Knowing how hard it was last year and expecting it to be the same, if not worse, because the mountain we chose this year was the highest one on the trail in North Carolina (do you see a theme here?), I cautioned our friends and family making the journey with us this year to get down their pack weight to under 30 pounds if they could, because we had a taste of the grueling nature of the journey last year.  It got so bad last year, I was thinking of ways I could lighten my pack by eating uncooked meals as we walked.  Remembering my desperation last year, I cautioned my brother, band mate, and friend making the journey with my husband and I this year that "one pound sometimes makes the difference between you making it to camp or not that last mile".   I got plenty of eye rolls and heavy sighs and even one dispute over a poop trowel in the cabin from my band mate as he exclaimed that it weighed virtually nothing. 

"Everything weighs something, before I left, I cut the handle off of my toothbrush and cut down all my food bags and straps to cut more weight," I told my band mate.  He rolled his eyes, laughed and told me that was a little extreme.

"You will see," I said, "that poop trowel does not need to come with you.  It weighs 8 ounces and you can dig a hole with a stick."  Finally he relented after my friend and I persuaded him that it was unnecessary...we also tried to talk him out of his giant 2 pound machete and walking poles.  He never used his machete one time, but after seeing him almost die on the trail because of his pack weight and unsteady gate, I was thankful he had kept the walking poles, they saved his life more than once.

This year was different from last year because we shared the journey with our friends and family.   We learned from last year that ground tents instead of hammock tents were warmer in the mountains and that pack weight was everything.  I got my pack weight down to 25 pounds including 2 L of water and then decided that I could add a 750 ml luxury item.  I will say that after hiking 8 hours the first day up difficult terrain that a shot of peach vodka never tasted so good with re-hydrated lasagna.  I am actually glad I brought it along as our friend twisted her leg and ended up fracturing her ankle and tearing her ligament on a root on the trail.  That is a sound I will never forget, like the popping of a wet log smashing into a rock sound.  By the time we had broke camp that first day, her ankle was the size of a half cut baseball and sticking out of her sock something fierce.  We made her drink about 350ml of that vodka to herself and go soak her ankle in the freezing mountain stream for about an hour.

My husband joked that had we been at home, we could just put some Shoogie on it, and call it a day.  Sarah laughed and likened me to the dad in the movie, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" who puts Windex on everything.  I literally slather some sort of Shoogie concoction on my kids and self when I am around the house, and as I said before, I have the anti-chafing/bug bite shrinker/ deodorant (aka Naughty Bits & Pits) at the ready in my first aid kit at all times.  This trail was no exception, I brought it with me and happily carried it because it only weighed 0.4 ounces and was...worth it... as I used it every day on the trail to be more comfortable. (It's the little things, people!)  To not have the feeling of bugs crawling down your butt crack, and foregoing the stench of sweaty, gross bits & pits, I would gladly brave carrying the 0.4 ounces, of literal body crack, up and down the mountain a hundred times over... (to-be-continued)


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