Thursday, November 3, 2011

#7. Hiked in the Appalachian Mountains for four days and three nights.

A few days ago I posted a list of 22 things I have done.  This post contrasted a list of 22 things I'd never done.  Today I am going to elaborate on #7-I hiked the Appalachian Mountains for four days and three nights.  Seeing as I am not a camping type woman this was an enormous feat.  

At the time of this trip, I was the youth director at our church and I wanted to take them on a memorable experience that would grow their faith in Christianity.  I had talked to many different facilities and camp directors, but this one had a special charm.  I could tell that the leader was dedicated and I was convinced that I was most likely to reach my goal if I scheduled a trip with him during our summer break.  The only dilemma that I was facing was the issue of camping and the lack of toilets that would be available on this expedition.  I tried to put this aspect out of my mind and I focused on the positive.  Before I knew it July had rolled around and we were on a bus headed to the mountains.

After arriving we learned how to pack our sleeping bags, light our miniature stoves, and it quickly became obvious who could follow directions and who would be clueless the entire trip.  We were assigned hiking buddies and since we were sleeping two to a tent, one person in each pair carried the tent, and the other hauled the food.  Had I been thinking about the nature of a teenager, which I ended up with as a buddy, I would have made sure I was in possession of the food.  This would prove to be my first monumental mistake.

Day 1 -  We hiked for eight hours.  It went by very quickly as we got to see waterfalls, an old model T ford that had been abandoned many years ago, bear cubs, and lots of beautiful gurgling streams.  I was feeling good and knew that my choice of summer activities had been a wise one.  However, I was dirty and feeling rather anxious about it.  So I set up my tent near the river bank, it seemed like the perfect place, and I learned how challenging it can be to change clothes in a lean-to style tent that was 2.5 feet tall at its highest point.  We ate dinner and laughed and played around the camp fire and I remember thinking, "This is fun.  Why have I dreaded it for the past six months."  

When the leaders announced it was bed time I didn't hesitate, rather I crawled in with great joy.  Not long after getting comfy on my cushiony mat, I thought I heard something skirt through my tent.  I couldn't quite decide if I had really heard anything or not, but I grabbed my flashlight and began inspecting my tent thoroughly.  Nothing was there and I returned to my relaxed sleeping position.  And then I heard it again.  I had my light handy and when I squeezed the button I found I was face to face with a river mouse.  He was looking into my eyes from his perch on top of my buddy's pillow!  I am not sure how I left the tent.  I know that I came screaming and waving my arms rapidly, across our camp.  The other leaders and youth were greatly entertained and I was ready to hike out of the woods.  No matter how good of an experience this was going to be for them, I was done.  

Since no one was willing to hike out in the dark with me, I had to come up with a back up plan.  I decided that I would sleep as close to the fire as I could.  I figured whatever these creatures wanted they wouldn't want to get burned in an effort to attain it.  It was a long spooky night out under the stars and I wondered who had possessed my brain to make me believe that this adventure was a good one.

Day 2 - I woke and realized that I had been victorious in out smarting the man eating mouse. This rejuvenated my spirits and we continued to hike the old railway bed deeper into the mountains.  After treating a few feet for hot spots and another day of glorious views, we arrived at our 2nd campsite.  That night while I was sleeping next to the fire I was awakened by squeals and from the sounds of them I was convinced one of the girls had a problem.  I hopped up and was immediately blinded by flashlights that were quickly approaching.  Turns out that they were boys and one of them had been awakened and by a mouse that had crawled into the palm of his hand.  That night I shared my sleeping arrangements around the fire, with three boys.

Day 3 - It was on this day that I realized how hungry I was going to be for the reminder of the camping experience.   You buddy had learned that if she shared OUR beef jerky with the boys she was able to gain a bit of attention.  This had proved fruitful in fulfilling her desire to be around them more, but she failed to think this plan through.  I would spend the day walking for eight hours in the mountains, and my only nutrition would be dried fruit.  Which led to my other dilemma for the day - digging a "toilet."  Let's just say that if you are crazy in the head, and choose a trip like this...and you've never been hiking, make sure and do a search on google for how to dig a proper sized cat hole.  Mine was a bit small and I really hope that the leaves I used did their job, and that no unsuspecting soul happened upon that pile of last year's autumn foliage, that I scraped together.

Day 4 - Was a victorious one for me.  I had survived and we were headed home.  I pulled rank on all of the other female campers and threatened to do bodily harm to anyone who got in front of me as I walked directly to the shower.  They took me seriously, and I was singing in the shower.  I started with Amazing Grace and then ended with O Happy Day!

This story was inspired by the all powerful and all knowing Mama Kat and it is linked to her site.
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