Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Day 36: Laurel Falls

April 12: I was the first hiker to hit the trail in the morning, which meant I was the person breaking cobwebs that the spiders created across the trail during the night. They weren’t bad—I’ve suffered from worse!—but it was annoying.

Springer Mountain is now 406 miles away! I never did find another sign for Katahdin, though, which seemed unfair for Katahdin.

For the first half of the day, I felt like I had the entire trail to myself not seeing a single other person. It wasn’t until the afternoon when Mrs. Dash caught up with me, which normally isn’t a big deal, but he had just taken a week off the trail in Erwin for tendinitis or something and carried a 3-pound plastic boot that a doctor had recommended. It’s a little embarrassing when a crippled person can catch up and pass you! Well, maybe not that embarrassing, but it seems like it should have been. =)

We walked together for a half hour or so chatting about making our own gear. He was interested in sewing his own pack like I did and asked all sorts of questions about it, but after a half hour, I couldn’t keep up his pace anymore and let him wander off ahead. I’d hate to see how fast that man can walk if he had been at 100%!

As I approached Laurel Falls, the relatively lonely trail became packed full of day hikers. It seemed like there were hundreds of them on the trail, but that’s probably an exaggeration. They were definitely thick on the trail, however, and slowed my progress as I got caught behind some slowly heading down the trail with no easy way to pass them.

Laurel Falls is a nice waterfall and easy for one to watch all day long. I took a seat near it and read my Kindle, but I couldn’t read for more than about 20 minutes before the hoards of day hikers drove me away. I liked the location, but alas, so did everyone else and the kids running around and yelling made it difficult to read.

This waterfall is called “Hardcore Cascades.” Mrs. Dash and I both found that rather amusing since neither of us considered it particularly “hardcore.”

I continued onwards, skirting along the edge of Laurel Creek and nearly missing the turn to the Laurel Fork Shelter. I thought the shelter would be on the trail (my guidebook didn’t mention that it was off trail), and the sign for the shelter was about 10 feet high and facing in the wrong direction. If I hadn’t been stopping to take photos of every sign at every intersection, I probably would have missed it.

But, happily, I did not, and followed the blue-blazed trail a short way to the shelter and set up camp. I was the only person there. The water source for the shelter was a small waterfall a short ways behind the shelter—among the prettiest of water sources for a shelter. I set up camp and rested and relaxed wondering if perhaps I’d have the shelter to myself tonight. So far as I knew, everyone else was heading into one of the hostels the trail passed near earlier in the day.

I should have known better, though! Within a couple of more hours, seven (SEVEN!) more thru-hikers would show up including: Chanty, Salty, Little Engine and the Four Horsemen.


Little Engine had a hiking partner, Jax, who failed to show up. He was ahead of her and she was more than a little surprised to arrive and learn that Jax had not. He, evidently, had missed the turn for the shelter—which we all agreed was an easy thing to do, and especially so if you weren’t looking for one in the first place. We kept wondering if he would show up, having realized he missed the turn and backtrack. Little Engine wasn’t going to go on and try to find him, though. She’d already done 27 miles and was done for the day and looked exhausted. I felt so sorry for her, I even offered to walk over to the water source to fill up her water for her even though it wasn’t really that far or difficult to get to. (Actually, I was more likely to get it for her if it was quick and easy for me!)

Of the Four Horsemen, Blueberry and Bostrich showed up first, and they were also surprised to learn that Superman and Heavyweight weren’t already at the shelter since they had been ahead on the trail. Clearly, Superman and Heavyweight had also missed the trail to the shelter. A lot of people were missing the trail to the shelter! Three people so far—that we knew about! In theory, others could have missed the turn then just decided not to go to the shelter at all rather than backtrack to it.

Bostrich dropped his pack and raced down the trail in the hopes of catching Superman and Heavyweight before they went too far. They had gone into town to resupply and bought all of the makings for cooking hot dogs over the campfire. Bostrich and Blueberry had the actual hot dogs, but Superman and Heavyweight carried the buns. I joked that they shouldn’t worry about Superman and Heavyweight—we’ve got the hot dogs, after all. The buns, really, were optional and we didn’t need them.

Eventually Bostrich returned with Superman and Heavyweight not far behind and the hog dogs had finally been reunited with the buns. I love a happy ending. =)

The ending gets even happier for me, however. When they bought the hot dogs, Superman had failed to notice that they were actually turkey dogs, and among his many allergies was a turkey allergy. (I had no idea that turkey could even be an allergy!) So Superman was immensely disappointed to realize that he wouldn’t be able to eat any of the hot dogs, but I stepped in and offered my services to finish his share of the booty. They made a campfire and I cooked a couple of turkey dogs over the fire which I enjoyed. I had already eaten dinner and brushed my teeth, but I was willing to brush them again. It was the least I could do. *nodding*

Nice views! Including that blood stain from banging my skin in the shelter the previous day.

Mrs. Dash might be crippled, but he could still out-hike me!

I was trying to create a “dramatic” photo with this, but I think I look like I’m lost instead… (I wasn’t! Just that it looks like I am!)





Hoards of people heading down the steep trail to Laurel Falls!

Laurel Falls is a pretty nice waterfall, but it was awfully hard for me to get a photo with nobody in it. (You actually can see someone’s leg sticking out of that tree on the left, but otherwise, I did a pretty good job!)

Oh, did I mention… I hit my shin again while stepping over a log across the trail and that’s what that fresh blood wound is from. At least I didn’t re-injure my old wound from yesterday—that would have been a lot bloodier and messier!

I couldn’t take the hoards of people anymore and had to leave after about 20 minutes. I would have liked to have lingered longer, though.


Some hikers had trouble following the trail not realizing that it’s that narrow little path between the steep cliff and the Laurel Fork. (See the white blaze on that rock on the right? It’s not very clear, but it’s there!)


Unknown said...

I'd really like to thru-hike one day.. until then, I'll just keep enjoying yours. =)

-only dreaming

Karolina said...

You're wearing different shoes than usually!

Ryan said...

Right now, I'm wearing Obóz on the trail, which apparently means "camp" in Polish. I actually bought the shoes *before* I realized that, however! I thought it was just a random word, but that just *can't* be a coincidence!

-- Ryan