Every day is sort of like a game of Chutes and Ladders. (Aside: Back when I was addicted to Dungeons and Dragons, my mother insisted on calling it Chutes and Ladders. Although maybe that’s still apt. There’s as much Lord of the Rings as Lord of the Flies out here.)
Today, for instance:
–Torrential thunderstorm at 4 AM. Bad news!
–Weather clears enough to pack tent. Good news!
–Torrential rain all day. Bad news!
–Excellent opportunity to test rain system. Good news!
–Rain system is terrible. Bad news!
And on and on.
The thunder was loud and the lightning was close. I wasn’t really afraid, though. What was I going to do? I just did my best to keep the down dry and get packed up.
A mile out, I lost the trail. I hate that! I followed what looked like the trail down a steep ravine that I had to climb out hand over hand. I’m no mountaineer (hell, I’m barely a hiker). It took me about 30 minutes of backtracking to get course-corrected.
Then I came to a blue-blazed side trail called ‘Bad Weather Trail.’ How funny, I thought! That trail has such bad weather that they gave it a name! Then I realized I was an idiot. The white-blazed trail went over a ridgeline. The bad weather trail was an easier alternative. D’oh!
Being a purist, I took the white-blazed trail. How bad could it be? It was only raining . There wasn’t any wind.
It was bad. A mile-long rock scramble that felt just like a Pennsylvania boulder crawl. The rocks were slick. I took one nasty spill that tore a gash in my second pair of rainpants.
Eventually, I got through it. Yay! Then I stopped to get dry in one of the plague shelters. It was full of healthy hikers. The register didn’t show anything about people being sick there, so I’m actually chalking it one up to the Hiker Hysteria Network (HHN). I tried to dry out my tent, but it was still pouring.
Up a big hill, and there was a magnificent bald. The sun came out! I took 20 minutes to dry the tent… and when I packed up, two tent stakes had vanished. Gone. Haunted? Stolen by fairies? Maybe they went to that secret dimension where my glove went in the Smokies. I’ll have to pick up replacements in Damascus.
And that’s it. I’m stealth-slash-refugee camping. Postman and Quaker are here. It’s supposed to rain until Sunday, but not tonight. I’ll get to Erwin as fast as I can—probably Sunday. Phone battery’s down to 28%.
One thing I keep forgetting to mention: my trail buddies Slow-But-Sure and Because-of-Her have left the trail. Bad knees. I’m going to miss them a lot!
Also, I startled a grouse today. It exploded out of the leaves, and I jumped out of my skin. Not literally.
Also also, I just tried patching my rain pants. We’ll see if that holds! Because I like them!