We did it. Today, we were those people. A planned 23-mile day turned into a 17-mile day in the blink of an eye. 12 miles of hiking through a burn area under the hot sun stole our motivation to go any further. If we had gone further, it would have been a 6-mile water carry to camp, through even more burn areas. No thanks.
This opportunity to be the first ones at camp with a tent set up by 3pm was another educational experience. Our campsite options were 1.) a beautiful site next to where we knew other people would be camping or 2.) a solo spot where we could see people had been going to the bathroom. We picked option #1.
It took less than an hour for our once vacant camping area to fill up with tents. Brianna and I enjoyed making small talk with other hikers as we ate an early rice & beans dinner. A thing I need to keep reminding myself about these backwoods campsites is that they are more like city campgrounds than they are wilderness campsites. Expect to hear loud conversations and cackling, the clanking of pans, and all the other nightly noises.
Our campground quieted into silence well before sunset, lulling me into a false sense of optimism about how much sleep we might get this night. New hikers arrived throughout the night and pitched tents anywhere they could. With new hikers coming in at night and old hikers packing up and heading out early in the morning, we were not able to get much rest.
Most of the hikers coming in and going out were not disruptive and did so with minimal noise and light usage. We wouldn’t have known the quiet people were there if the noisy flashlight people hadn’t already woken us up. Morning coffee was especially special when Brianna made eye contact with a gentleman taking a poop in a meadow just 10 feet away from camp.
These recent experiences around large amounts of people while we hike have me questioning if we would ever want to attempt the Appalachian Trail. Maybe the AT would be best for us to do in well-timed sections?