We survived our first night on the trail, but this whole life is one huge learning experience.  One can enter the woods as prepared as they can be, but nature will teach lessons books cannot.  

We learned a valuable lesson on our first day on the trail, water is not always going to be where we hope.  Thankfully we had plenty to drink, but not enough to cook with so peanut butter and honey tortillas were for dinner the night before, and granola and bars for breakfast. It took us about an hour to pack up camp and get stepping along again.  Not too bad for our first time.

First thing on our agenda was to find water, which we knew was about 3 miles ahead.  We decided to forgo that point and make it to Black Gap Shelter, which is about 1 1/2 miles below Springer Mountain.  We thought we were just going to stop at the shelter to make some hot lunch, gather water, and keep going, but the weather report spreading through the camp was that the weather atop Springer was going to be much colder and the winds gustier than in the gap, so we hunkered down.  We made chili and rice for dinner.  Cannot tell you how much that boosted morale!

The kids all gathered wood for the fire, and we fed it for several hours.  Our fire was inviting to many.  Foggy, an older gentleman from outside Boston came to visit for a while.  He was a kind man.  He shared how his son was his inspiration, and mentor, having completed the AT in  2010.  We met a group of guys who decided to forgo the beaches for spring break, and wander through the mountains.  We’ve met all sorts of people out here… There is a sense of community amongst strangers out here in the woods.  And when nature forces survival, selfishness is abandoned and replaced with genuine concern for others.  

Ryan gathering water, which we filter using our Sawyer System

Campfire at Black Gap Shelter

Instead of sleeping in our tents, we chose to sleep in the shelter.  Shelters vary in design but are typically a three-sided structure, raised off of the ground a bit.  The beauty of the shelter is that when we woke up in the morning to 4 inches of snow we did not have to pack up tents, and they provide a great break from the wind.  

Privy defined:  a most beautiful and disgusting blessing.  A privy is an outdoor bathroom.  The beauty is that you don’t have to dig a hole, bare your bum, and hope your aim is accurate. It is however disgusting because of the sheer number of people (who are rather unclean) that use the privy on a daily basis. Just in case you were wondering!

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