I am pleased to announce that I received a phone call from Christian on Thursday evening! He had made it to the Gooch Mountain Shelter in Georgia and found a location with a signal. He relayed that he had tried several times to find a cell phone signal to call me on Wednesday and had given up.
Gooch Mountain Shelter has been touted as “The best shelter in Georgia” by some Thru-Hikers. As best I can tell, it is one of the newest shelters having replaced Gooch Gap Shelter just a few years ago. An amazing group of volunteers and diligent Appalachian Trail enthusiasts work hard to keep paths clear and the shelters maintained throughout the entire length of the trail. They clear brush, maintain structures, help make trail markers visible, and a myriad of other labors of love.
I shared every one of your messages with him during our brief conversation. He was encouraged and surprised that so many people are cheering him on! He is appreciative of the donations, the well wishes, and the other hikers (and former hikers) who are sharing their experiences. He wanted me to tell you “Thank you, very much”.
So, the big question is “How is he doing”? He relayed that he and a few of the people he has been hiking with thus far are suffering from a “fog-like exertion” due to the weight of the packs they are carrying. There is no hard and fast rule about the size of one’s pack. However, it is generally agreed that less than 40 pounds is best. There are “Ultra-Light” enthusiasts who carry hammocks, and tarps and their packs are less than 25 pounds. Christian and most of his fellow hikers are at the 40 to 45 pound weight for their packs.
“Down hill isn’t something you look forward to, he said, because you know eventually you will have to go back up another hill. It is not hard, just grueling and repetitive. I can definitely feel it in my feet the most”.
When I asked him if he felt prepared enough for what he was experiencing he said “Boy am I glad we joined the YMCA and started exercising. The workouts have helped a lot. I think the first few days would have been much more difficult if I were not in shape”.
I asked him what he wanted to share with readers about what he was seeing. “The scenery is absolutely gorgeous. It’s phenomenal. There are very few traces of man. I stop all the time and just gaze at everything around me because it is just so majestic and beautiful”.
When I told him how I talked about “Trail Magic” in the previous blog , he laughed “I am actually about to experience some right now. We were all invited by a former Thru-Hiker for hot dogs and cold drinks at the gap up ahead”.
My husband’s next words shocked me. And, they will shock any of you who know him at all. However, before I reveal his words to you, I have to let you in on some privileged information. You see, Christian Torp is famous for loving food. Soon after we started courting, he invited me to his church. Upon greeting me, each person would say something to the effect of “So, you two are courting, huh? I sure hope you can cook because that man likes to eat”. It would have been significant enough if only one or two people had said this to me. But, nearly EVERY person said the same thing. Clearly, this man had a reputation for appreciating a meal.
I witnessed it for myself a few nights later at the Pastor’s house, as my future husband put away 10 chicken drumsticks, two helpings of Kale Greens, potato salad, mac-n-cheese, and rolls. And, then he went back for more. Additionally, I have witnessed his love affair with food every time my mother makes extra helpings so that “you can take some home for your husband”. My mom and my husband have a great relationship. She loves to cook for him and he loves to eat her food.
You would not be able to tell by his frame that he is a hearty eater. He takes good care of himself and enjoys walking everywhere he can. But, he has got to have one of the highest metabolisms I have ever seen! The man eats a stick of butter a week, without any help from me, and breakfast is usually an hour long ritual every morning. 3 fried eggs, 2 pieces of toast, and a generous helping of Weisenberger Mills Grits (this is where the majority of the weekly butter goes). His Doctor says that he is “healthy as a horse” because of how well he takes care of himself. But, he and I like to joke that he is a Hobbit because he would enjoy “Second Breakfast”and “Elevensies” if our budget and schedules allowed.
So, when he told me, after hiking 8 miles a day for the past two days, that “I’m having the hardest time forcing food down”. I could hardly believe what I was hearing. He continued, “I made Couscous last night, and at some point I noticed we were all staring wordlessly at one another barely touching our food. None of us has had an appetite. ” I was truly taken aback. I have no doubt this will change as he progresses, but it was certainly an unexpected piece of information.
His parting words to me where “I am exhausted but, still glad to be doing this. I can already tell a difference in my legs from yesterday to today. It will continue to be a challenge but I am excited”.
I do not have the donation totals today. My best friend has a newborn and has been ill. I have been helping her and her husband care for him around the clock since Thursday. We are up every two hours and I have yet to make it to the post office. If you have mailed donations, THANK YOU!!! I will update you on totals next week.