Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Day 60: Pulling a Karaoke

May 6: I woke up and was on hiking by 6:30 in the morning--my earliest start yet! Which was just as well because the morning started warm and would just continue getting warmer and  more humid throughout the day.

Almost immediately, my guidebook showed a viewpoint on the east side of the trail a mere 0.1 miles off trail. How could I not? The trail crossed the Blue Ridge Parkway and I could see what looked like a pullout a short ways down the road which I assumed was the overlook and followed it out. As you can probably guess, I was wrong. It was a drive that eventually led to a parking area with absolutely no views. But there was a trail from the parking area which looked like it led to a viewpoint, so I followed that and finally reached the viewpoint after nearly a half-mile of walking.

It took a half hour of walking off trail to get to it, but the viewpoint was nice!

I was peeved at the distance off the trail I had to walk. I thought it would be a quick five minute walk off trail and back and it was now looking like it would take the better part of a half hour. The view was great--I'll give it that. More trails led off in both directions: it was labeled as a loop trail which I was tempted to check out, but I had wasted enough time as it was. The walk to the viewpoint sucked, but at least I could throw my trash away at the trash cans. Then I turned around and retraced my steps to the trail.

The trail dived back into the woods then made a sharp turn to the right... directly in the direction of the viewpoint I had just visited and that's when a sinking feeling hit me. I continued following the trail, grumbling to myself. It was headed directly towards the viewpoint I had just been at. And from that viewpoint, the parking lot would have been 0.1 miles to the east. Had I just hiked a half mile off trail to get to a viewpoint that was on the trail?! Yes, that's exactly what I did. And even worse, I hadn't even recognized the trail I was looking at as the AT so I stupidly walked back a half mile off trail to the trail and was now walking a half mile on the trail to see a view that I'd already seen.


I only had myself to blame, but ooh....  I wasn't happy about wasting so much time walking around in circles. I had pulled a Karaoke, but at least he had been smart enough to leave his pack behind while hiking around in circles. I carried my pack the entire time.

But the viewpoint looked pretty much the same a half hour later after I returned to the trail and followed it to the exact same viewpoint!

Most of the day was a long downhill towards the James River and the longest pedestrian-only bridge of the Appalachian Trail. A ridge runner had written a message in the nearby shelter register that jumping from the bridge was illegal and could result in a hefty fine. (I was a little curious how large a fine had to be to be "hefty," but there was no indication of that.) Despite the heat, I had no desire to jump into the river. I did, however, pee into the river from the top because, well, because I'm a man and we have this urge to pee from high places. =) The ridge runner never wrote anything about peeing from the bridge being illegal either.

About 20 minutes before I reached the Johns Hallow Shelter, the rain just came down in buckets. It was shockingly sudden and unexpected. The sun had been shining one minute, then I felt a few drops of water hit me. Not little, tentative drops, but large drops. Those first few drops immediately worried me. There weren't a lot of them, but they were large drops. That was unusual. Rain storms usually grew. A light, tentative rain grows into a heavy downpour, but these weren't light, tentative drops.

This only lasted for about five seconds when the torrential downpour followed. I whipped out my umbrella. The change in weather was dramatic and left me stunned. How could it go from sunny to torrential downpour in mere seconds?

The rain continued for about five minutes then stopped as quickly as it began. The change wasn't as dramatic this time since tree snot continued to fall long after the rain had stopped, but I arrived at the shelter wet and frumpled. If only it had held off for an extra half hour, I'd have been safe and dry in the shelter.

I had initially planned to hike a few miles past the shelter but with the rain, I decided to wait. If it continued raining, I wanted to be in the shelter. If it didn't, I'd continue onwards.

I stayed in the shelter for nearly a hour in my holding pattern and no additional rain fell. I chatted with the other hikers killing time but finally decided to leave. I put my shoes back on, put my pack on and was just about to walk out when I heard thunder roar through the valley bottom.

I sat back down and resumed my holding pattern. It wasn't raining, but rain often followed thunder! The rain soon followed, but I kept to my holding pattern hoping it might stop again. The last squall lasted a mere five minutes, after all. But after an hour of waiting, I finally called it a day. After nearly two hours, I set up camp in the shelter.

Other hikers had arrived during my two hour wait including Little Red and Chuckles and it was fun catching up with them again. The other hikers had been surprised that the ground was so wet because they never saw it rain at all before their arrival. I was envious. Not only was the sudden squall heavy and soaked me through in a mere five minutes, but apparently it was centered over me and nobody else!

Matts Creek

Just another thing to worry about.... *sigh*

The longest pedestrian-only footbridge of the AT can be found here, crossing the James River.
The view from the bridge over the James River. That other bridge is for trains to cross the river.

Twas a brief but torrential downpour!
Just a few minutes of rain flooded parts of the trail!


Unknown said...

I think I can see Mama Wolf at the top of one of the mountains.

Okie Dog said...

Pee on a bridge over the river....Mother Natures way of saying "Don't pee in the river, or I'll rain on only your parade". Ha

clueless said...

We experienced torrential rain out of nothing (literally sun shining moments before) while on Mt. Washington, but since that area is known for its crazy weather, I guess we shouldn't have been so surprised.

BOOTY said...

I definitely see a pattern emerging. Mother Nature dislikes exhibitionist urination. Pee in a river, get attacked by a torrential downpour that's yours alone. Pee in a volcano, get lost and find yourself in a drug plantation.
Yup. Definitely a pattern.

Unknown said...

Oh, those spring time showers ;-)