Epilogue Day 3: Secret Shelter

Epilogue Day 3. When I looked at the weather for this part of America on Monday, it showed sunny or partly cloudy for 6 days straight. I thought I was going to be blessed with perfect weather to push these miles out. Not too hot, not too cold, not too wet. Nope, wrong again. All 3 of my pairs of socks (including the supposed waterproof ones) or soaked through. The ground has been saturated with rain water all week, and it poured on me yet again today.

I was really hoping I’d get in the 18 miles to this shelter before the thunderstorm hit this evening. Reports were showing 30% chance of rain from 3-6pm, and then worse after sunset. I woke up a bit late, but still tried to push my hiking pace, so as to arrive between 3 and 4. I thought I had a good chance of staying dry until I ended the day, then staying dry in the comfort of a shelter. It was great this morning, with the sun even poking out at times for a quick and warm hello. But then the rain hit at 2pm, and it was a straight downpour until 4pm when I finally arrived at camp. And of course, now as I sit here under this cover of roof, it’s dry skies again. When it comes to weather, I simply can’t catch a break out here this time, and it’s really starting to annoy me. However, I’ll look optimistically to tomorrow, who’s forecast shows clear blue skies and sun. I need that sun. Both to dry out my gear and warm up my spirits.

Side note, how cool is this photo? It looks like the sun is heart-shaped and sending down rays of sunshine like a carebear.

It was a generally nice hike today (before 2pm), and I saw a handful of Sobo hikers again as I traversed my way North. Done we’re chatty, some not so much … but it was great to see people all the same. There were a couple of nice rest areas to kick off my shoes and let my piggies breath, and some not-too-difficult ups and downs in-between. Physically, I could tell that yesterday had taken a toll on me, though not as bad as I feared. I was a bit slower to start, but then found my hiking legs as I made good time trudging through the trail rivers and wet pasturelands of today’s AT.

The shelter I’m staying at, is actually a privately owned cabin on a farm the trail passes through. its called the “Secret Shelter” because it’s not advertised in the printed guidebooks (though is marked on the Guthooks app). A thruhiker from 1989 bought this land and established the cabin as a refuge for hikers in need of shelter along this section of New Jersey, which does not allow stealth camping. It is locked at times during the year, but I was pleased to find it open today and available to me. I hung up some gear, laid out my bed, and ate dinner on the porch while watching a donkey graze nearby. Although I was frustrated from the rain, it was a very tranquil evening. I’m always amazed at the community supporting this trail, and this is yet another example of a past hiker opening his home to future walkers of the path. It’s nothing special, with just a dirty tile floor to put a sleeping pad on, but it’s dry and it’s here. It also has a water spigot and electrical outlet to charge my phone, which is nice.

Tomorrow might have to be a really long day, as it’s 18 miles to a shelter or 26 miles to a town. After the past 3 days, a motel in town sounds like heaven to me. If I cant get that far though, I have a feeling I won’t be able to get all my missed miles in before Sunday. We shall see, but I can always come back another time if I need to.

Hello Neiman (Sharkbait)!

  • Start Mile: 1326.1
  • Start Time: 08:15
  • End Mile: 1344.9
  • End Time: 18:30
  • Miles Hiked: 18.8
  • Miles to Go: 47.8
  • Lodging: Secret Shelter