Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Back On The Hike Again: Zippers and Spiders

And the adventure begins! I'm on a mountain, feeling cool, fresh, and prepared. I have very good gear, food for over six days, enough water to last me for a day, and I'm with my brother who really knows what he's doing. This awesome feeling probably lasted about 30 minutes, when I started sweating profusely, realizing that I wouldn't see a shower for a really long time and had only one other shirt to wear. Paul said not to worry, that we only had about 4 more miles to go, straight up, before we could stop for the night. My spirits were up, but somehow my daily routine of running 5 miles in the morning did little to prepare me for this. I'm pretty sure the word "ascent" does not get used much in Florida. In fact, I should have been climbing stairs instead of running for practice. As a newbie, I was a great asset for Paul. I could think outside the box. Every time I saw a stream, my shirt came off and went for a dunking. Nothing much can cool you down faster than a shirt wet with 30 degree water.
Paul preferred his one luxury item: his 1 pound chair. He often claimed to other backpackers that ridiculed him for bringing such a thing along, that it was a medical necessity for his back. I laughed along with the other hikers, but before that trip was over, I had fantasies of Paul accidentally falling off a cliff and me grabbing that chair at the last second.

We climbed for so long that it was really dark when we reached our destination: Kelly's Knob, which didn't look like much in the light of our headlamps. We quickly set about setting up camp and I then realized that I had some serious issues besides being tired as hell. I was attempting to set up my brand new tent for maybe the second time since I bought it. It was a really cool tent, made of recycled grocery bags or maybe something not quite as sturdy. As I was putting up the tent, I kept finding daddy-long-leg spiders, something I hadn't seen in years. Perhaps it was the same spider coming back over and over, but first it was on my pack, then on my tent. I'd shoo it away and then find it again. I mean, I like bugs, but the thought of one in my tent or my sleeping bag tends to interfere with my sleep pattern. I finally got everything about right when I then noticed a whole different kind of spider on my ankle. My first thought was great! I'm going to die the first night from a brown recluse spider bite! I knocked him off, got inside my tent as fast as possible without ripping the material to shreds and quickly went about zipping the door to keep the spiders out. Unfortunately, I had never tried to do that exact thing with this tent before and suddenly saw that a zipper on a grocery bag is a quite fragile item. No matter what I did, the material stuck in the zipper. I tried every trick I knew, including yelling cuss words at the bugs, which now included several moths that found favor with my headlamp. I knew the next thing that was going to happen was that I was going to rip the zipper right off my $200 plastic bag tent and spend the rest of my nights sleeping with spiders. Meanwhile, Paul was snoring in the tent next door, something that became more annoying as the trip went on. I now fully understand the feelings of a person laying wide awake, wondering what monsters are walking around, while your companion tells you that there is no better sleep than what you get while under the stars.
Ironically, the one night I did sleep well, was the night of the bear...

1 comment:

  1. I feel you on the snoring. I once camped in a 2-man with my father-in-law in "Little Yosemite Valley" the night before climbing Half Dome. He fell asleep immediately, and every single breath he took until morning was a snore. I never even fell asleep for the entire night. Which turned out to be OK, because I had to shoo two bears from our camp.