Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Crunch:the Sad Story of a Two Week Separation

I discovered that while I like to THINK I would like to backpack for weeks on end, really, a week is about my limit.  I don't like to be away too long from Matt and the kids, my bed, the bathtub, the dogs, the library, Netflix, my routine.  And that's okay.  I still do and go more than 90% of the people I know and I embrace being 'out there' when I am.  But, I think this is not surprising to anyone other than myself, it turns out that one of my biggest security blankets is my van.

A few weeks ago, Chan was driving and slowed down for a woodchuck and the car behind us did not. The car behind us was driven by a girl who had gotten out of school at noon, just over 12 miles away in town and managed to plow into us at 12:15, so let's assume speed was part of the factor.  It was a half day, she wasn't just checking out for a doctor visit, so there was the full on school traffic to get through.   I was just as irritated at her as her mama was at Chan for not plowing into the the animal at full speed. Whatever lady.  I would have slowed down, too.

I learned 2 things from that wreck.  One-if both parties agree to exchange information, you don't actually have to wait (2+ hours) for a trooper to arrive and take an accident report.  Though in the case of a clear at-fault driver, the trooper can ticket them for leaving the scene of an accident.  The troopers office said it happens all the time, people get a fender bender and have to get to work or to pick up their kid and opt not to wait.  Then I learned item number two.  You can not file with insurance without an accident report from an officer.

So, last night I dropped WanderWagon (finally named her, no comments from the peanut gallery about how it's not a wagon) off at the body shop and they said it will be 2 weeks, minimum.  TWO WEEKS.  Let me go over the extensive damage:  Lift gate.  Possibly under the bumper is dented.  The slot where the back seats slot into the floor to make the floor flat is caved in a little.  I actually 'fixed' that with a camping mallet so I could put the chairs away.

I thought they would be done this afternoon.  I thought they would stretch the frame before lunch, replace the door in 20 minutes and call me to come get her.   I am a little excited about the lift gate because I don't have a rear wiper and a new one would have that.   I had to re order all my stickers last night.

So, I go pick up my rental this afternoon.  I have so much going on this week and next that sitting at home isn't an option.  The other insurance company is picking up the tab.  Nice.  I nearly pushed for another minivan, but the lower gas usage won out.  I have never paid less than $35 for a full fill up.  And that's every 400 miles.   I get about 23 MPG, which is abysmal.  Matt gets 42.  We have discussed getting a running around car for me, since I don't haul loads of kids any more.  But in the end, another car payment for 3-4 years to avoid paying an extra $10 on a fill up a few times a month never quite makes sense.

So, keep my poor van in mind and send some 'hurry the heck up' vibes to the body shop.  I don't think they understand when a car isn't 'just' a car.

I'll be local for a while.  I have an overnight next week, a week long trip in July or August and so far, that's it for summer plans.  I know, it's crazy!  A few swim days, some day hikes, lunch meetings, a dental appt for a deep pit in a rear molar that I have ground the sealant out of.  Again. I hope that's not toxic, I feel like I have consumed a fair amount over the years.

That's it for updates.  I have a wild hair to exercise more, we'll see how long THAT lasts.  So far, just this morning.  I mowed the front yard after, it's raining so much that the grass is growing about half an inch a day.  Matt mowed part of it Friday evening after work and it was already wooly again.  The back is outright field-like, but I will get to that later.  It's about to rain again.  Plus, it's not as thick, so if it's longer, it's not a killer to mow like the front can be.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

AT: Dick's Creek Gap to Deep Gap

16 mile stretch.  Loads of laurel and rhododendron and open woods.  Ridge line, big trees, rocks, streams.  2 shelters and multiple campsites.  One view.  Lots of peeps through the trees at neighboring mountains, but just one wide open spot.

We set out from Dicks Creek Gap to get to Bly Gap at mile 8.7.  Matt was meeting us the next night at Deep Gap and we were going on to Standing Indian and headed for mile 100.

We made great time, I took my time on the climbs and downhills, using my poles, stopping as much as every 50 steps for a couple seconds to keep from wearing myself out.  It was chilly, breezy and fog and rain rolled past in bursts.  The sun would come out and be swallowed in moments and it would get so dark, like dusk.  Then the sun would come back out.

The day progressed and we stopped for lunch at Plumorchard Gap.  I saw the first and last piece of trash by the trail, a yogurt cup of all things.  I packed it out.

We got to Bly Gap about 3, refilled on water and headed up to the famous tree to get pics.  The campsites were up on the little ridge, and so was the wind!  It was cold and getting colder.  We decided to keep going since there was so much light left and get down a bit to set up camp.

The trail just after Bly goes STRAIGHT UPHILL for...it was probably a mile, but it was brutal.  After the whole day of the trail being pretty gentle and also planning to be done at that point, it was mentally hard to keep going and add in that climb and it was about enough to do me in!  I was down to stopping every 25 steps in some stretches.  It levels off and the goes up even more.  It seems like there can not be any more mountain as, through the trees you see well below, the tops of other mountains.  There were steps that were level with my knees, so hauling me and my pack up and sometimes down that distance wore me out quickly.  I had my pack at 25 pounds with 2 liters of water, which is what I was carrying thinking we would find a campsite on the lee side of the mountain.

We walked another 3 miles to Muskrat Creek shelter before we got a break from the wind.  The temps were dropping and though the wind was not straight at us, it was still breezy.  I cinched down my Six Moons tent (still not the tent I want, I am still looking) and we hit the sack by dark.  I set my TWO liters of water I had hauled that whole way outside the tent.  I could hear Muskrat Creek all night.  There are times when I wonder why I enjoy this so much.

We got going around 10 the next morning, taking our time packing up.  We only had 4 miles to Deep Gap and could not go further because we were meeting Matt.

Somewhere along the hike, Melissa stepped and her knee bent backward.  Then she stepped and slid and her knee buckled.  She twisted it then and it just got worse.  By the time we got to the gap parking area, she was feeling it grind on each step.  It was just after 2 and Matt was not due in for 8 more hours.  

So, we hitched back to my van, a surprisingly easy process!  We just happened to arrive when 2 cars of guys were setting up to hike and they were going back to Hiawassee for groceries before going on to Unicoi Gap to backpack back to the car they parked at Deep Gap.  The van was 7 miles from Hiawassee and they dropped us off just over an hour later and if we had been 10 minutes later, we never would have seen them!

I called Matt when we had service and told him not to come.  I drove us back home, the drive of 4.5 hours seeming to take 9.  That is a winding start and stop trip, you rarely get to go more than 15 minutes without having to stop at a light, sign or make another turn.  It feels like forEVER.

Melissa headed home and I had a hot bath, muscles twitching.  I feel fine and am ready to get in more miles this weekend, I about have Matt talked in to doing the canyon at South Cumberland, there's a 2 or 3 mile stretch between Horsepound Falls and Ranger Falls I need to hike and I will have hiked the entire trail system there!  It's just getting to that spot is a 3-4 mile hike one way, so it will be a long day with a big climb at the end no matter which way we tackle it.

Of note, I hiked the whole time in my Chaco sandals and not one single foot issue at all, not even a rub or anything.  That solid rock hard Vibram sole and the straps that keep my foot secured are amazing.  I am selling my unused Merrel boots along with my 1 person Six Moons Scout tent, if anyone is in the market.  Hahaha!  

Melissa's rain cover made her pack look HUGE