Thomas Knob Shelter [mile 494.9; mpd 7.86]
What a strange, strange, strange, strange day. But first: Happy trailiversary to me! Today’s my two-month anniversary out here. Perfect for an eight-month thru-hike! 😉
You know, I see a difference between one-month hikers and two-month hikers, even when they’re at the same place mileage-wise. The two-month hikers have a sort of world-weary attitude; the one-month hikers still seem a little like puppies. The trail hasn’t adjusted their attitude yet.
The lack of internet is frustrating! I did manage to find enough of a weak signal to check my work email, but access is sporadic—-and insufficent to upload journal entries. I’m hoping that improves tomorrow when I’m past Mt. Rogers.
So. The day. I set an alarm and got up at 5:00. The tent was wet, of course. But here’s a measure of my occasional stupidity. I’m just farting around, brushing my teeth, wandering in the dark, taking my time… it was as though subconsciously I’d decided that because I’d had enough rain, the rain was over. Wrong! I was half packed up when it started to pour again.
It was Mt. Rogers day. Of course it was going to rain!
More interesting, though, the day started out in a pea soup fog. The rain stopped after a while, but I could hardly see the green meadows I was walking through. The trail left the meadows after the first mile or so, then it was a grueling four-mile climb that was much rockier than I’d anticipated. It felt like North Carolina in March. (The temp today was 48 at noon; there was a thermometer at one of the gaps.) Very tough. And that was just Whitetop Mountain; the entree would come after lunch.
At the top of Whitetop, tucked in among the boulders…trail magic! Somebody had left Cokes and cupcakes. Bojangles pointed them out to me. Remember Bojangles? I met him and Oxy outside of Erwin. They’re fellow Pennsylvanians. The pair of thm split back on Damascus, and Bojangles is hiking alone. Thank you, wonderful trail magic person!
I fought with the pack again. This time, though, it was clearly rain weight. My pack and tent were drenched. I unpacked and repacked twice and finally reached a manageable level of discomfort, but I can’t tell you how much I miss the sun!
After lunch the trail turned bad: rocky and wet. Mostly it was like one long uphill river walk (another four-mile climb). And the rain started in earnest again while I was climbing Mt. Rogers, along with thunder. I made it to the shelter, but the tent, of course, is soaked. Welcome to Appalachiaville!
The wet would be fine, if it weren’t so cold. But summer is coming!
Saw a lot of hikers today. One huge group of guys seemed to be traveling together: Sticks and Gus and Emperor from the Lazy Fox were in that pack. I don’t know any of the others. There seem to be a lot of section hikers.
The battery on the phone died! I’m sittinghere using the charger for the first time. Seems to be doing the job. I was surprised that reading drained the battery so fast. I’ll have to ration that.
The shelter’s gorgeous but noisy. Sounds like a party down there!
Tomorrow: wild ponies. I know they’re around. There’s pony poop all over the place. You know, the AT Guide calls them “feral ponies.” That makes me laugh. Ponies with fangs, humgry for blood!