Settled down and zipped in sometime before dark. Arranging the tent as well
as I could, I put on my fleece hat, covered up with the "blanket" and
waited for sleep.
my world grew darker, my mind grew livelier. Soon I felt threatened by bears,
stalkers, flash floods, plane crashes from the sky and imaginary beings, as
the water-fall roared on into the night. I was also cold. My toes were little
I dug out my lightweight throw-in-at-the-last-minute-just-in-case sleeping
bag - a zipperless down mummy,
open at the wide end. I started warming up somewhat, but my toes, in wool
socks and down bag, were still like ice. I tried rubbing them but, constrained
by the narrow bag, could barely reach them. I settled for the contortionist
trick of tucking them alternately into the crook of the opposite knee - they
thawed only slightly but the position was too awkward to continue.
After a couple of hours mentally battling my imaginary demons I began to
drift off to sleep. Suddenly the vibrations of a scritch, scritch, scritch
worked their way from the ground somewhere outside the tent, into the stuff
sack pillow, into my ear, to my brain and whammee! I was suddenly flailing (or
as much as one can flail in a mummy bag) striking the side of the tent,
fumbling around for the only defensive weapon I could think of - a tiny, one
ounce flashlight that had an eye-piercing blue light when the button was
I clutched this tightly as I lay frozen in fear, my heart beating an
adrenaline-induced pace. After a long time of not moving, heart still pounding
I wondered why the warm blood still hadn't reached my toes.
I dozed briefly, with crazy dreams, waking to hope for dawn. It was 2.30
am, my feet were finally warm but the tent walls, heavy with condensation,
were sagging in on me. I opened the flap a bit and waited for a long time for
sleep to revisit. I woke at first light - 6.30 - slowly aware that I hurt everywhere,
with an especially noticeable deep, dark ache in my right hip. I needed to
pee, and maybe worse ( a bodily function I was vaguely hoping to postpone
until after I'd climbed Katahdin) - no small task when I had to climb 200ft
away from my neighbouring stream into the woods.
If all my nights and mornings are like this, it's going to be a long, long
hike. And I mean just to Neel's Gap!