Laurel Falls [mile 417.7]
Woke up early and in the rain, and decided I needed a rare treat: I needed to let myself sleep for a while. So I stayed under the quilt until 7:30 or so. (I usually get up some time between 5 and 6.) The tent was warm and drowsy and delicious, and the patter of the rain was hypnotic. The birdsong was amazing! Ten or twelve or twenty different trills and warbles and croons; I wish I could idenfify them.
The 8:30 AM start was decadent, but I really needed the extra sleep. And in fact, that may be one way that I’m still fighting the trail. It’s more natural (and easier) to sleep at dusk and wake up at dawn. We’ll see. That would be a hard change to make.
So first of all, it rained cats and dogs all freaking day. From the minute I got the tent into my bag until a little while ago when I set up camp… rain. And not just an easy spring rain. I mean a steady downpour. For a few minutes here and there in the afternoon it was only kittens and puppies. But it never quit. That’s rain for the second day. Last I heard, the prediction was for two more.
But it’s not winter! I didn’t even wear gloves (and my hands turned white and wrinkly from all that water).
Just yesterday I was thinking that the trail had become a solitary place, so what did she throw at me? Hikers! About ten of them passed me this morning! All new faces, of course. I saw some of them again later: Misery and Barbosa are the two names I remember. This afternoon two more passed me, an older couple. It makes me wonder if this is one of the later bubbles passing me. April 1, maybe? Anyway, they were all vastly cheerful. Maybe one day of rain makes hikers cranky, but two just make them resigned.
Everybody was heading for Kincora, a hostel that’s one of those quintessential AT experiences. Sadly, if you’re thru-hiking, you can’t do all of those. Which is why, frankly, I recommend section hiking! It’s a better deal for actually experiencing the trail.
The sign at the road said Kincora was closed and advised people to go to Black Bear Hostel instead. Not sure why it was closed, but with weather like this, I’m betting it was full—and Black Bear and the shelters, too! I’m still on my long-range plan, though, so I’m tenting. It’s raining again, but I’m warm and dry in my down.
The walking was tough. The early day was uphill, complicated by the rain and the fact that my wet tent and pack weighed about six billion pounds. Progress was made, though. The views today were pretty much round—that is, the shape of the hood of my rain jacket.
I decided to aim for Laurel Falls. With a pretty name like that, I thought it’d be some placid spot near a stream. Wrong! The climb down here was rocky and treacherous with the downpour. But gods, what a reward! A huge, magnificent waterfall! And then I got my icon after all. There’s a place shown in films where the trail actually hugs a cliff over these rushing rapids… and boom! That was here! I would have preferred to tackle that on fresh legs and better rested, but I got past. I had a couple of adrenaline rushes, though, what with the wet rock. 🙂
So here I am on the bank of that beautiful, majestic river. The sound of its rushing is drowning out the beat of the rain.
Suddenly I have to pee.
I’m doing the battery dance again, alas. With at least four days to Damascus, my battery is at 32%. I’ll probably switch to pen and paper tomorrow. I can’t wait to get that battery charger!