Camped on the trailside last night. Windy & down to the 30 degrees. Tylenol PM & snoozing by 1am. Firewalker, Renee, Grace and I start @ 8. Met Easy Hiker and Ole Grey Wolf @ next mountain top to chat & rest (pic). Easy hiker has base pk Wt 12, 20 w everything! Cool guy. Drizzling all morning. Fairly wet all day. Blood Mtn shelter (4450ft) seemed like it would be a great place to hike to in better weather, but as we were in a cloud there was about fifty feet of visibility. The boulders just outside the shelter harbor some excellent bouldering routes! In talking to other hikers it sounded like the hostel would be full at Neals Gap and Blood Mnt shelter was dark & dank… not a place to stay. I hurried to the hostel…full. Found a cabin was open and all four of us plus Eric (cool guy I met on the trail today) lapped in the luxuries of a warm shower, four hot pizzas… extreme comfort.
Today I realized I had to leave Firewalker, Renee, and Grace to start a higher pace. Hard to say goodbye to tem. I stopped by the store before leaving and picked up some Leki Malaku Kumbu trekking poles. Relly glad I did, the trails were slick with muddy leafy but the poles offered secure footing. Eric and I set a goal to 18 miles to Blue Mtn Selter. It’s been miserably cold and wet. While walking it ok. Stop for more than ten minutes and 40 degrees wet is really cold. We reached Low Gap Shelter (11 mi?) and it was stacked full of people. Hardly anyone on the trail hiking. News from those at the Low Gap was Blue Mtn Shelter full too. We found a good campsite ~2 miles down the trail and decided to set up camp. It’s 9ish now, I’m under my tarp and am finding point along the top ridgeline that are leaking, so I’ve arranged myself to minimize getting my down sleeping bag wet draping my raincoat over the bag. Condensation inside also sprinkles back down when rain drops hit the tarp. It’s frustrating and I expect I’ll be wet in the morning. We’ll see.
It’s been a couple hours now and my sleeping bag is still warm even though damp. I can definitely see some improvements to make when I make my next tarp!
It’s 2am and and checking about every hour on my bag wetness. I call to Eric’s tent next to me and turns out his rain fly failed. His bag is wet and he’s really cold. I shuffled stuff around and he parked in the right half of the tarp. At 3:30 we get shut eye slept soundly till 6:30 sunrise. Putting on the wet clothes to hike was pretty miserable. Eric and I just dropped down and started doing push-ups laughing at how ridiculous is it. Once we got moving and warm it felt great. Two other hiker’s we passed were also soaked. Grasshopper is heading 11 miles back to Neals Gap disgusted with the conditions and hoping to find a better tent. The rain water rushing down the mountains was spectacular (video!!). Eric and I both immediately agreed seeing this was worth the miserable night and we were in good spirits looking forward to the day. The sun peaked through the clouds and we saw blue sky for the fist time in two days. I found a creek overflowing into a cascade of waterfalls and sat back in it. Wow, cold (but fun, video). The views along the mountains are amazing (pic) and walls of moss, galax and mountain laurel were all over. Along the trek today we found a former thru hiker left trail magic.
Yet another example of the generosity everywhere in the people associated with this trail. Seems almost unreal. We made it to Trey Mountain Shelter at 4233ft at an exposed area neat the top and clods have moved in. It’s strange watching them pass by the front of the shelter. An hour ago it was sunny 40; now there is about 100 ft visibility and there is front on the grass!! I’m tucked in my sleeping bag with a warm water bottle at my feet. Eric and I are in our bags toasty and enjoying nature’s weather show with good humor. Should be a good night. Tomorrow we have a reservation in town at the Hiawassi In to refuel and clean up. The tendon at my right knee cap is really sore, so it’s time for a zero miles day. My precious hiking schedule is not on schedule, but it better to be healthy and enjoy the trail with all the amazing people here!