DAY 55. As promised, my week 8 video is live and I am officially caught up! It was a long stretch without WiFi for a while there, but now all is good in the world.
Speaking of … I don’t want to jinx anything, but I think that, maybe, perhaps, possibly, it may be, one could argue, that Spring has arrived! I know I know, it’s probably going to snow again now that I’ve said it, but I feel somewhat confident today for some reason. The temperature has been in the 50s to 60s pretty consistently lately, and the rain showers are here. I’ll take these as good signs that winter may finally be behind me and sub-zero nights need no longer be a worry.
I’m still not going to send home any winter gear though (hat, gloves, long underwear, etc.) … not yet. But, I hope I won’t need them again for some time. If this seasonal conversion holds true, I’ll trade these items and my winter quilts out for summer clothes/quilts in Harpers Ferry in a couple weeks. Then I’ll plan to pick them up again before the White Mountains.
For being completely in rain, today’s hike was actually pretty great. It was cold at times, and all views were nonexistent (see below), but the terrain was easy and the trail well maintained. Most of today’s hike paralleled the Blue Ridge Parkway (road), with parking lots and view points to take in. I took none in, as you can see in the photo, but it meant the trail was manageable to walk along without any extreme climbs.
There was one problem though. With all the rain, the multiple stream crossings here were trouble. And one was even extremely dangerous. The typical rocks/logs for crossing were completely overflown with water, making it very hard to cross and keep feet dry. With all the rain, they weren’t going to be dry anyways, but it’s still nice not to water-log them unnecessarily walking through ankle deep streams. That makes for an even more uncomfortable sloshing around for a good mile afterwards.
The dangerous one was legitimately a huge risk. The only crossable area must have had a bridge at one point, because this was far too deep with water moving far too fast for anyone to sanely consider. You could see the trail on the other side … but no way to get there. I stood on one giant boulder, with water rushing over my toes, while I strategized a possibly route. Getting my feet wet was not the main issue … keeping from falling in and being rushed downstream was. It was a good 4 foot step to the next giant boulder, also under flowing water, and it was bound to be slippery. And, once I committed to the place for a lunge, there was no going back. I stood there for 15 minutes contemplating the step. I walked up and down the stream looking for any other option, but none existed. I took the photo below while cursing my frustrations out loud.
So, against all common sense in my head, I took a leap of faith and reached across as gingerly as I could. And … much to my surprise, my boot landed safe on the expected rock. It was drenched, but it was firmly planted! I took two more careful steps and finally reached the other side. It was quite the emotional moment, I promise you. Once I stopped kissing the ground and praising the lord, I noticed that my feet weren’t nearly as wet as I thought they’d be. The waterproof socks held up well! Every hiker should own a pair for this exact location.
I arrived at Bobblets Gap Shelter shortly after 6pm. I hiked alone all day today, even though Remy and I departed from Daleville together. But he was not feeling the rain and stopped at the first shelter just 5 miles out. I enjoy hiking with him but also enjoyed the day of solitude today. It was a good rainy day for once, so I made the best of it. If anyone else were near me, they could even have heard me happily singing along while I hiked …
When I got to the shelter, I was surprised to see Tarzan and Happy Feet again! They left town yesterday afternoon, so I assumed they’d be far ahead, but also chose to take it easy in the rain. I’m starting to wonder if something is wrong with me today, why did I alone have such a good time?? Oh yeah, my hopeful celebration of Spring!
I enjoyed chatting with them all night as we huddled in the shelter eating dinner and discussing gear. Since my backpack no longer cinches tight at the waist, I’m researching new options. Happy Feet is looking to upgrade too, so we compared notes and ideas. Talking gear is a fun part of most nightly conversations out on the trail, and it’s fun to discuss opinions and options with others.
I am hoping to get big miles in tomorrow, as it is supposed to stop raining tomorrow afternoon. But there are also 3 huge climbs at the end of the day, leading to a shelter option at 18 miles or another at 24. A betting man would probably take the under on my lofty goal, but I’ll see what the day looks like. A well cleared trail and some clear skies by the afternoon could be big motivation to hike on.
Hello Neiman (Sharkbait!)
- Start Mile: 729.2
- Start Time: 09:30
- End Mile: 747.7
- End Time: 17:50
- Miles Hiked: 18.5
- Miles to Go: 1443.2
- Lodging: Bobblets Gap Shelter