Mollie’s Ridge Shelter [mile 176.8]
The morning was outstanding. All the mornings are, really. Fresh legs, fresh attitude. The fog obscured anything like a view of the dam, so the entrance to the park sprung up kind of suddenly from the winter trees. I jammed my permit into the stuffed box, then BOOM! I was in the Smokes. My bete noir, at hand.
I know it’s got to be my imagination, but the Smokies felt prettier than the rest of North Carolina, at least at the beginning. Or maybe it was that weird yellow thing in the sky, trying to burn off the fog. There were more birds, more greenery… moss-cloaked trees and ancient rocks. The Smokies just feel old.
The weather was great. Above the fog line it felt like spring was trying to peek out. But the hiking… it was all uphill today. Relentless. And the sun went back into hiding after a bit, turning the sky back to slate.
I tried to rest my feet, but I still ended up with hamburger feet at the 8-mile mark. I’ve got some more ideas. Too boring to type. 🙂
So. I stopped for water about two miles from the shelter. The ridgerunner had left a handwritten note: Water –>. Bear activity. Take your pack. I was peering into the woods trying to decide whether I could hold out to the shelter, when… holy shit that’s a bear that’s a bear that’s a bear! It was about 50 or 60 yards away, lumbering through the trees. An actual, honest-to-gods bear.
I didn’t go for water. And man, did I regret not having that zoom on my good camera.
I’m at the shelter now… inside the actual shelter. Another first. Slow-but-Sure and Bud are here. The shelter’s almost full: eleven so far. I hope the mice stay asleep!
No privy, here at Mollie’s Ridge. Just a minefield marked ‘toilet area’ that’s covered with old toilet paper. Yuck!
I’m not very literate tonight. Long day of climbing! I’m not even sure if I’m in Tennessee or North Carolina.