Waking Up On the Appalachian Trail: Chapter 18

Day 106: Trail Mile 1,478

Pulling my hat from over my face, I checked my watch as the space blanket crinkled like a Doritos bag all around me. The foreign sound cut into the silence of the forest outside Catawba Mountain shelter. I poked my head out of my bag and peeked around. The moon shone bright, casting an eerie hue through the swaying trees. The sun nipped at the eastern horizon.

The campfire had long since burned out. Scanning the status of my body, death seemed imminent.

The plastic, which I’d wrapped around myself the night before, had trapped moisture from my clothes and breath. Damp clothes clung to my skin while beads of moisture fell onto my exposed skin. I pumped my legs up and down and stomped my heels into the floorboards to get some blood moving. The crinkling human-sized Dorito bag stirred my brother to life.

“This thing is a piece of shit,” he uttered, wrapping the plastic into a ball inside of his sleeping bag. He tossed the silver-and-orange sheet out of the bag. “I can’t stop shaking.”

“Another sleepless night for you fellas, too?” Dylan asked from his sleeping bag next to mine. “Reminds me of ice fishing, ’cept for the fun of actually catching fish part.” He unzipped his bag enough to free his arms and began to roll a morning cigarette. “Time is it?”

N. B. Hankes

N. B. Hankes

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