It was a dark and stormy night. As we negotiated the forest roads in our search for the start of the AT yesterday, I kidded with Linda, Lisa, and Scotty that at some time during the hike I wanted to begin a post with Snoopy’s opening sentence for his novel. I just didn’t know it would come so soon.
Folks, it deluged last night. As my granddaddy Harry Andrews would have said, “it came a gullywasher.” The thunderstorms commenced around midnight and didn’t subside until dawn. They were relentless. Lightning lit up the sky like a bomb exploding. I envisioned that line of dark red on the weather radar. Needless to say, I slept little.
At first light I began to pack up. Water had crept beneath my tent despite my meticulous placement of the tent at what I had thought was the ideal camping spot. So after packing a damp sleeping bag, wet clothes, and a partially soaked sleeping pad, I ate breakfast and then took down my drenched tent. Therefore, until the sun comes out, I’ll be carrying an unusable wet tent.
The hike today was a lot more strenuous than yesterday. Due to the rain, there was a considerable amount of standing water on the trail. The streams were rushing as well which meant that crossings were also a bit challenging. At one point there was no other choice but to step directly in the water. I thought about changing socks but decided to forgo the stop. In addition, mud was everywhere. I slipped several times; however, so far I have been able to follow my good running buddy John Cobis’ advice, “stay vertical.” Tomorrow going down Blood Mountain will be the biggest challenge thus far.
Along the way today I hiked briefly with two fire fighters from Winston Salem and also stopped to chat with a south bound section hiker Pilot, who is from the Boston area. I stopped briefly to eat and rest at Gooch Mountain shelter where I shared some info with a young couple from Indiana. After a tiring final 5.3 miles I arrived at Woody Gap in a dense fog. I was able to hitch a ride to the Hiker Hostel with Kayleen and her husband (whose name I can’t remember). They were dropping off another hiker and gladly offered me the ride here. My first trail angel.
Josh and Leigh, the owners of the hostel, thru hiked in 2000. They are really great folks, answering questions and providing advice when asked. Josh took me in to Dahlonega to get a meal at Captain D’s. After returning to the hostel I was able to talk to some of the hikers here about Don. All listened with compassion. Among those are Kathy Sanders, who is on trailjournals, Cliffdiver, Ratchet, Lance, Alex from England, and four hikers from Maine. It has been great exchanging stories with all.
Tomorrow morning, after a hearty breakfast at the hostel, I’ll head back to the trail to resume my hike at Woody Gap, with Neel Gap and Mountain Crossings as my destination. Like I will sign every register, Don loved the woods.