About a half mile past Laurel Fork [~mile 405]
Well, look at that. Cracked the 400-mile mark! Woohoo! There was even a sign at milemarker 404. That’s cause for celebration! For me, celebration means a couple of handfuls of Kashi cereal and maybe a few minutes of reading. Life has become so simple. 🙂
It’s been a rainy day, and the hikers I’ve run into have been generally a cranky lot. Me included. Not that I run into more than four or five a day anymore. You know, it’s funny; the AT is supposed to be the social trail, but that hasn’t been my experience at all. This has been largely a solitary adventure. I think the social stuff happens in hostels and shelters, and I haven’t been staying in them very much. The only two hikers I saw today who were familiar were Banter and his son Evenbeard (and I met Banter only yesterday). They weren’t cranky, by the way; they’re two very nice guys. There are all sorts of ways to hike the trail.
Anyway! It rained overnight. I had a terrible struggle trying to roll out from under my quilt. It was so warm! I had a hard time motivating to break down camp wet, walk a bunch of miles, and set up camp again. But I did it! Because that’s the job!
The morning was beautiful. It stopped raining near dawn but stayed overcast. On a cloudy day, the spring greens seem to glow. I saw three new kinds of wildflowers: yellow ones like tiny daisies, deep purple ones like snapdragons, and white ones like miniature cherry blossoms. I also saw some birds that looked a lot like robins, but with white shoulders and white under their tails.
The walking was beautiful. Shaded wet forest, green under the rhododendrons; that green tunnel is coming! There were plenty of little streams and brooks and waterfalls and a river—or, as we call them in the backcountry, faucets. 😉
At one point the trail turned odd. It meandered past a cemetery, under low-slung power lines, through a grassy field rutted with tiretracks… it felt like the trail was marching through the servants’ entrance of some little Tennessee town. And I’m sure it was. I could hear chainsaws, and dogs barking in the distance.
The rain swept through at around 1:00. Luckily I’d spread my wet tent out earlier, so that was a little less water weight I was carrying around.
The rain hiking was… wet. It rained steadily. I didn’t really have any mojo today, but I think I got about 14 miles.
I passed a side trail that led to the Vango Abbey Hostel. I almost went there to see if I could get a dry bed for the night, but it was 5 PM, and I’ve learned my lesson: when it’s raining, hikers don’t want to sleep outside, go figure! I assumed the hostel would be full—and Greasy Creek hosteled me out for the week anyway. So I’m here in the woods at a campsite someone conveniently left for me. They also left a quarter on the tent spot, which I took as a sign.
Here that? Rain pattering on my tent fly. A dog barking. In the distance, a very persistent woodpecker. You know, most mornings here in the lowlands I’ve been hearing owls. I’ve never seen one. How cool would that be, to see an owl?