Weaving my way around Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Horse Gap to Gooch Mountain Shelter

with 2 comments

We slept all night accompanied by the gentle patter of the rain. Since it was still raining when we woke, I packed our sleeping gear while Oddbird heated some water in the tent vestibule. We had some hot tea with ghee and a coconut macaroon for breakfast, donned our rain clothes, and were off.

No pictures today, we hiked all day in the rain, eating gorp, power bars, fruit roll ups, pemican and other food that we didn’t need to heat. We had an amazing amount of homemade gluten-free, dairy free trail food. Oddbird did it up right!

Oddbird packaged our food in gallon zip lock bags, with each bag holding one day’s food. In theory, this works well. But out on the trail, nothing ever goes as planned.  If I was in the mood for ginger tea my only options were  to search through all the days bags to find the one that had ginger tea in it or to wait for “ginger tea day”. This wasn’t working for me. I need organization, and I need that organization to make sense to me! So, as I hiked, I mused over how to reorganize the food supply.

We hiked all day in a steady modest rain. I actually love hiking in the rain, as long as I’m warm and dry on the inside, and have a wide-brimmed hat to keep the rain out of my eyes. We slogged up Sassafras Mountain, and I was glad we hadn’t tackled it the night before, when I was already tired. It was worthy of the name mountain, and was the most difficult part of my hike. Down off Sassafras into Cooper Gap and then up Justus Mountain and down to Gooch Mountain Shelter. A total of 5.2 miles in the rain. 500 feet of elevation gain (and loss) and gain (and loss)!

Gooch Mountain Shelter was a welcome sight. The shelter was home that night for a father, his son and another young man. They took the loft. Another hiker who had done a thru hike a few years ago, was on the bottom with us. We set the tent up inside the shelter, as we had all heard the temperature was going to drop into the upper 20s that night.

The first thing you are supposed to do when you arrive in camp for the night is make sure your clothes are dry. I zipped open my jacket, felt my chest and under my arms – dry, dry, dry.

My hair was wet, so I used my bandanas and miracle towel and got it as dry as I could. I even changed into dry socks and dry shoes. I thought I was doing everything correctly.

Then I proceeded to reorganize the food, while Oddbird set up the tent. I organized our pantry to my liking, and was feeling very content with my little project.

Oddbird started dinner, and then, suddenly, I was REALLY cold.

I hadn’t realized that my hair had wicked water inside my rain jacket and down my back. Both wool shirts and my wool vest were wet in the back, where I hadn’t felt. I quickly got in the tent, changed to my dry sleep clothes, my down jacket, Oddbird’s down pants, hunkered into my down bag and covered myself with Oddbird’s down bag. Oddbird brought me warm drinks but it took two hours for me to get warm. I was shivering, at one point my teeth were chattering, and I was feeling rather stupid. It was only about 40 out, and I was on the brink of hypothermia. I was a text-book case and if I had changed into a dry shirt, this could have been so easily prevented.

We decided that, if it had to happen, at least it was a good lesson for Oddbird to observe. Now he will know first hand how important it is to be careful. And if it had to happen to me, I couldn’t have asked for a better caretaker!

I finally got warm enough to give Oddbird his sleeping bag and we slept the night through to the gentle breathing of the 4 other souls we shared the shelter with.

It is an odd sort of intimacy to cook and eat and chat with and then sleep alongside of 4 people you have just met. We had all walked the same piece of trail that day, had experienced the same weather, met the same people along the way. It makes for a kind of intimacy that you don’t establish in months or even years of working alongside someone in the corporate world.

The photo is the next morning, I’m all bundled up and ready to hike.

My wool shirts dried overnight in the bottom of my sleeping bag. I put the wool vest outside my rain jacket and it was dry by noon. So at least I missed the exhilarating experience putting on wet clothes the next morning provides!


Written by wovensongs

February 19, 2012 at 8:20 am

2 Responses

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  1. Hats off to you for conquering the trail! I like it right from my view here in my nice warm, cozy kitchen area. Yup, you do the hiking, i’ll do the reading about it 🙂


    March 4, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    • I felt like this was my best chance at doing something I’d dreamed about since I was 13. I knew if the weather caused a bad flare or I got in any other kind of trouble, my friend would be there to get me “out” safe. The hope was that I could use this as a test ground, and then do some backpacking on my own.

      There were several times that I was glad I was not alone, because the RA really was a factor that could not be ignored!

      I learned a lot, and with some “tweaks” I may be able to go short distances on my own.

      Hope you are doing better this week. You’ve been in my thoughts



      March 5, 2012 at 8:01 am

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