Musings of a Thru-Hiker

By Gary Shealy

Hikers at the Walasi-Yi (continued)

      After  a  restless night of tossing, turning, and dodging the air ducts as Dick Cates and Scott Richards  snored,  and  Coleman  whined, morning  finally  arrived.   It rained most of the night, and the gear that was left out on the porch was soaked.  I got up early in order to do laundry and repack my gear.  After seeing the  blisters  of  others and  hearing  their  complaints,  I  became  much more aware of my own feet.  This was the first time that I had the chance to  take  a  good look  at them in the light.  I knew that I had some blistering since I had been stopping regularly to add moleskin and reposition  my  socks. The  push  into  the  Neels  Gap  was  just too much, and by now I was limping noticeably.  I did not want to lace my boots up and strike out again.  A day or two to lay over would give my feet time to  heel  and also  give  me  time  to  prepare  myself emotionally to deal with the trail.  However the standing  policy  at  the  Yi  is  one  night  for hikers.   I  decided to delay as long as possible before attempting to convince the people at the Yi to let me stay another night.  The  warm dry  bed,  hot  shower,  and  wholesome meals forced me to reassess my reasons for hiking the trail.  The Yi was warm and comfortable.  It is no wonder that fully a quarter of the would be thru-hikers  end  their attempts here. 

      I still  needed  to go through my gear and get advice on reducing my pack weight.  In the meantime I called home, and picked out goodies from the camp store, and made an entry in my journal.  The  trail  had been  all  I  had  hoped  so far:  My feet were blistered, my pack was heavy, I camped in rain, and I was  falling  further  behind  schedule each  day.   In  fact I had not met any of my goals.  It seemed that I was travelling much to slow and that I would  never  make  it  to  the Smokies much less all the way to Maine. 

       Breakfast was served.  It was great.  An egg casserole, plenty of bread  and jelly, fruit, and coffee and juice.  A jar of peanut butter and a jar of honey were available to  quench  any  undying  appetites. Everyone  ate  heartily.   The  plates  were  cleaned down to the last crumbs almost instantly.  Hiking certainly stimulates the appetite. 

      As we cleared the breakfast dishes and cleaned the  living  area, Huff  and  Puff prepared to start out.  They were soon followed by the Florida Flyers and Dick Cates.  The honeymooners were slower gathering their gear and did not head out for another  hour  or  two.   Finally, Gadget,  PT  and  Coleman,  and I were the only ones left.  Gadget had already gone through his gear and was just lingering about nursing his tendonitis and sore heel.  He did not want to leave  either.   PT  and Coleman  were  looking  about  for  scraps  and  discarded gear.  They finally left and slowly headed down the trail.  I  found  one  of  the people at the Yi, and together we went through my gear. 


      I decided that if he could save me enough weight that I would buy a water  filter.  Several others carried filters, and they recommended them over iodine treatments due to the potential ill effects  of  long term  iodine  usage.   Of  my  base  gear, only a few small items were removed.  My repair kit was  reduced  to  needle,  dental  floss,  one mattress  patch,  one  tent  patch,  and  a  small  tube of glue.  The following items were returned :  a fifty foot section of  light-weight nylon  rope(for  hanging  bear  bags),  one  pair of long kakki cotton pants( replaced with lighter nylon  wind  pants),  two  quart  plastic bottles( used for liquid foods and as extra water bottle), one pair of long  polypropylene  underwear bottoms, a wool shirt, and two external side pockets for the pack.  The entire weight returned was  less  than 20 ounces.  In addition I picked up a long sleeve polypropylene shirt, several  small  blister  kits  and  moleskin  packs, a small bottle of hydrogen peroxide, and a few candy bars.  I was able to ship the  side pockets home since I had eaten several days worth of food leaving more room in my pack so that all the external gear now fit in the pack with a little  pushing.   The  weight savings did not cover the weight of a water filter so I kept my iodine tablets.  The  biggest  assistance  I received  was  the  expert  re-fitting  of  my  internal  frame  pack. Originally I was fitted with a fifty pound load fully dressed  with  a lightweight  jacket.   Unfortunately  while  on  the  trail,  I   wore considerably  less  clothing  and  carried  a   much   heavier   pack. Re-fitting  the shoulder harness, removing the lateral tension straps, and   re-adjusting   the  hipbelt  vastly  improved  the  pack  weight distribution.  In addition removing the external  side  pockets  moved the  pack weight more directly over my center of gravity.  It has been said that one wears a gregory pack, and  now  with  proper  fitting  I could  already  feel  the  difference.    This   greatly   helped   my disposition, but it did not change the way my feet felt. 

      After  dragging  around until after lunch time I finally accepted the fact that I must move on down the trail.  I was determined to take it easy and reduce the wear on my feet.  It was difficult watching the other thru-hikers leave before me. 

      The scout troop passed through around ten o'clock.   They  cleaned out  the  store's ice cream and made a considerable dent in the supply of candy bars.  I was disappointed to hear the proprietor run them out of the store.  Evidently he had been the victim of numerous pilferings by small kids before, and he did not want to suffer that again.   That incident was the only down spot of my entire stay at the Walasi-Yi. 

      I started  out  with  my  re-fitted  pack, new attitude, bandaged feet, and clean body intent on  catching  the  scout  troop  one  last time.   I  met  them heading south back toward Whitley Gap.  We camped there for the night.  



Copyright 1991-2000, all rights reserved

This is a fictional account of an actual Thru-Hike in 1990. Any resemblance to specific individuals or events is purely coincidental.