Monday, May 20………A hard rain awakened me at midnight. It felt peaceful and secure under the tin roof of the shelter as the rain pelted it. Quickly returning to sleep, I may have slept better last night than any other night I’ve stayed in a shelter. One thing is for sure; it’s the first night’s sleep I didn’t have to pay for in over two weeks. Plans are to repeat the night in the woods tonight. It’s unfortunate that all shelters aren’t as nice as Bryant Ridge.
Knowing I only had a 10.2 mile day planned, I lingered at the shelter until 8:25. Spider and ET headed out before me. They always hike about an hour and then take a break for breakfast. When I did start to hike I was immediately greeted with a tough climb. The initial climb was followed by two more of about the same length before I finally got some breathing room at the crest of Floyd Mountain. After passing Spider and ET while they were having their breakfast, I saw no other hikers all day.
Later in the morning just as I was thinking that I hadn’t seen a deer in a couple of weeks, a white tail flashed across the trail right in front of me. Don must have been hearing my thoughts. The large deer paused for a minute before moving on. I also saw two large red-headed woodpeckers. Birds of varying species are plentiful on the AT. Hawks can be seen soaring through the sky almost every day. I’ve yet to see an owl, however.
Even though I hiked slower than usual throughout the day, I still reached the Thunder Hill Shelter before 2:00. I really dislike getting to shelters so early because there’s literally nothing to do. Being the only one there, I picked out a sleeping spot and laid out my tyvek. Then I decided to walk back to a crossing of the BRP to see if I could get cell service. None was to be found. So I walked back to the shelter where I swatted flies until bedtime. The pests made journaling as well as eating a challenge.
A while later Temp, Stumbles, and Onyx (formerly Alex) arrived. They immediately began debating whether to stay or continue on for an additional 14.6 miles to Glasgow and a shower. Asking my (parental) advice, I stayed clear of the discussion. Finally after cooking and eating a meal, they set out at 5:35, fully expecting to do at least a couple of hours of night hiking. I admire the enthusiasm of the young. After their 30 plus mile day, I doubt that I will see them again. Then with the Appalachian Trail one never knows.
While the debate was underway, David, a hiker out for a few days to get ready for a southbound thru hike he hopes to begin on June 1, and Spider and ET arrived for the night. Just before dark War Cry also walked up to claim a spot in the shelter. After the trio departed the rest of us sat around the picnic table chatting over our meals. War Cry, like myself, has no stove. She too said she just wasn’t using it, so she sent it home.
As dusk approached I made one of my fundamental shelter errors. I got into my sleeping bag (mainly to avoid the flies) and fell asleep before dark. Then at a little past 11:00 I awoke to remain so for over two hours. When I go to sleep that early my body thinks it’s a nap. I believe I could have gotten up and started hiking at midnight. Until probably after 1:30 I rolled from side to side numerous times before finally getting back to sleep. It proved to be a reckless night, but all in all the day couldn’t have been more important because the heel feels fine and once again my hike appears to be going well. Tomorrow I’ll add mileage as I continue to test the Achilles on the Appalachian Trail.