Day 30. After 3 days of beautiful weather, today was absolutely brutal. I mentioned yesterday that it started raining late last night, and it hasn’t stopped yet. It converted to snow and hail at times, but never relented the whole day. And you know what else that means … mud. Lots and lots of gooey gloppy trail mud.
Needless to say, today was slow. I still finished my day’s plan, but only because there was nowhere else to camp for the last 4 miles during the climb up, across, and partially down Bald Mountain. I eventually rolled into Bald Mountain Shelter around 6:45pm and all I wanted was a hot dinner and a warm sleeping bag. Within 30 minutes I did both.
There would have been some beautiful views today at High Rock, Bald Mountain, and other small peaks in-between … but the fog covered anything out there. I did my best to capture the scene, but the photo above doesn’t nearly do it justice.
I hiked alone today and passed the time by listening to an ebook that Fun Facts recommended to Nubs, Culligan and me last week. It’s a fantasy story called “The Name of the Wind”, and although it is very long, I’m really enjoying it. I got through about 20% of it before the weather required me to switch to more motivational music in order to keep my feet moving. I’ll probably finish within the week. So far, I highly recommend it.
Side note, not sure if my mind was playing tricks with me, but the weirdest thing happened around 3pm. Right after crossing the highway at Sam’s Gap, I entered a gated section of the trail signifying the entrance to Cherokee National Forest. As soon as I closed the gate behind me, a tiny dog ran up barking it’s head off. Then it just as quickly disappeared up the trail. I walked up to where it disappeared (maybe 15ft away) and looked everywhere but saw no sign of the dog, it’s owner, or it’s annoying bark. I kept walking, looking, and listening, but … nothing. It must have been a ghost dog, protecting the forest border from vagrants. I’m convinced.
When I finally arrived at the shelter, Chickapea was already there and he had a brilliant plan to share. He really wants to get to Erwin (16 miles away) in time to watch a Final Four game, so booked a shuttle to pick him up 6 miles from here at 10am tomorrow. He’ll spend the day/night in Erwin, then get shuttled back in the morning to hike the 12 miles he skipped. Since a full 16 mile day would get me in around 6pm, I jumped on that idea too. This way I can get cleaned up and try to get to a possible Seder dinner after-all. I’m feeling good about this plan, so tomorrow will be a short and easy hike.
And as a bonus, this way I’ll meet back up with Fun Facts, Nubs, and Culligan on their way into Erwin.
Hello Neiman (Sharkbait)!
- Start to Mile: 308.1
- Start Time: 08:30
- End Mile: 327.0
- End Time: 18:45
- Miles Hiked: 18.9
- Miles to Go: 1863.9
- Lodging: Bald Mountain Shelter