Waking Up On the Appalachian Trail: Chapter 17

Day 104: Trail Mile 1,441

We’d turned the inside of the trailside shelter into a Depression-era Hooverville. Plastic and tent pieces enclosed the space, our makeshift engineering and ingenuity an act of desperation. Water filled the fire pit.

“Tie that, no, that corner over there and then pin the opposite corner to the shelter floorboard with your boot,” Ben directed. “If we’re lucky, we’ll trap some of our body heat tonight.” A biting winter rain drenched the forest floor just beyond the lean-to awning. Wind whipped at the edges of the protective fabric.

Drifters gon' drift.

I sat down and wrapped both hands around a steaming pot of ramen broth. I’d rationed the fuel to only one pot of boiling water per day and delayed eating in order to absorb more of the heat.

A pile of rain-drenched socks, shorts, and a shirt sat curled in a ball on the far side of the shelter. I’d have to put them back onto my body in the morning but avoided dwelling on that impending discomfort, instead focusing on the warm broth as it washed down my throat and warmed my core.

“There’s a grocery store twenty miles from here,” Ben said, flipping through the guidebook. “We’ll walk right past it tomorrow afternoon. Looks like there’s an outfitter right next to it, too. Hopefully they have a phone we can use. We need our winter fleece mailed out as soon as possible.”

N. B. Hankes

N. B. Hankes

Founder and best selling author of "Waking Up On the Appalachian Trail."
Humboldt County, California