Friday, June 5, 2015

Day 34: Barnyard Hikers

April 10: It didn’t rain during the night, but in the morning, the clouds looked angry and the wind was ferocious. Rain seemed inevitable, but I tried to get on the trail and hiking as early as possible to enjoy as much of the day rain-free as I could. It held off for an hour before a thick fog rolled in and rain started to fall. I’d wanted to pull out my umbrella, but it was useless in the face of such a strong wind. Even if it could stand up to the wind without breaking, the wind was blowing the rain horizontally anyhow. So I just walked through the rain, getting soaked to the bone. The only way for me to stay warm was to keep hiking.

I stopped at the Stan Murray Shelter after 5.2 miles for a quick snack break where Blueberry caught up with me and I finally saw the outfit that gave Blueberry his name—the giant blue poncho covering him and his pack giving him a hunchback appearance. He started getting under the protective roof of the shelter, but I shooed him back out in the light for a moment telling him I wanted a photo. =)

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How Blueberry got his name: the poncho. Heavyweight told me that it took both Superman and him to help Blueberry get into his poncho making it a three-man job!

The next shelter after that, the Overmountain Shelter, was a mere 1.9 miles away and on my way there, the rain finally stopped even if the wind did not. This shelter is legendary for a couple of reasons. The first: it’s a converted barn. The second reason: it overlooks an absolutely wonderful view across the countryside. When I arrived, half a dozen hikers were already there setting up camp including three of the Four Horsemen and Quirk. I grabbed a place at the front of the shelter deciding to stop for the day. I covered a mere 7.1 miles today, but the place was too nice to pass up, and I had allowed myself one relatively short day on the trail due to weather before my next resupply point, so I had the time to stop. In any case, the next shelter was another 18.0 miles away and given how ugly the weather looked, I didn’t want to camp outside of a shelter.

Throughout the afternoon, many more hikers would arrive. It seemed at least 20 of them passed by! Most of them stopped at the shelter for the night, but many of them continued onwards. One hiker who arrived and met the Four Horsemen for the first time said something about reading one of their entries in the register about “Tortuga blazing” which was the first time I had heard the term. They were Tortuga blazing me?!

One person was a local who was spending the one night out who had parked a short ways away at a road, and he offered his car keys to a few hikers who offered to drive into town and make a beer run. They ended up coming back with a few cases of beer, snacks and other goods giving the evening campfire a festive atmosphere it usually didn’t have. One hiker carried in a ukulele and Superman played a few songs on it.

The Horsemen went all out collecting wood for this fire and had the help of several other people and they created quite the bonfire! Definitely the largest fire I’ve ever seen on the trail. Somewhat surprisingly, despite how ugly the day looked, it never rained again once it stopped and I was a little disgruntled to realize that had I slept in for a few hours before leaving the Roan High Knob Shelter that morning, I could have walked all the way to this shelter without being in the rain at all. That would have been nice! As it was, I’d count this as my third day where I had to hike in rain.

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Some hikers ate pretty well for breakfast! It’s the first time I’d ever seen anyone carrying actual eggs in a Nalgene bottle, but I thought the idea was brilliant. Even if one of the eggs happened to break, at least the mess would be contained.

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The Roan Highlands had some great views… at least until the fog rolled in and the rain started.

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Yep, just in case you were wondering, the trail was still following the North Carolina and Tennessee borders. It’s odd to be “welcomed” to North Carolina even though I’d been hiking through it for weeks now!

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Fog and rain settle in.

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The Overmountain Shelter was this old, converted barn making it one of the more distinctive shelters along the trail.

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Hikers set up camp at the front of the shelter where the view was located. The Four Horsemen took up the platform of the right. I’d sleep on the platform on the left, along with Mrs. Dash and Quirk. Everyone else would sleep in the second deck or in tents in a nearby field.

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This is the photo I took from my place in the shelter. I just enjoyed watching the clouds blow across the sky for the rest of the afternoon!

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Another milestone worth noting—I pretty much reached my one-millionth step along the trail today. Yeah, okay, it’s a little short of one million, but I usually didn’t carry this pedometer when I walked around camp and it hadn’t counted the steps on the Approach Trail. All told, I’d definitely exceeded one million steps since I started my hike, despite what the pedometer said!

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It was the biggest campfire I ever saw at a shelter! It’s pretty large now, but it got even larger after the sun had set.

1 comment:

Crystal R said...

Sounds like a good ol' southern bonfire to me =)

-Only Dreaming