Solitude dominated the better part of an unseasonably cold, windy day. I never shed my rain jacket, the only warm article of clothing I still have since I mailed my fleece home two weeks ago. The wind chill hovered in the 40’s in the morning. In fact, the wind continued strong throughout the day. At times I had to use my poles to maintain my balance for fear that the wind would blow me over. Still the views atop Cold Mountain and Tar Jacket Ridge more than made up for the uncomfortable weather conditions.
The day began with one final ride back to the trail with Deidra. After dropping me off at US 60, she was headed for a day hike with a friend on Bluff Mountain. I can’t thank my former student athlete enough for her hospitality and the transportation to the trail each day. Visiting with Deidra and her family made my stay in Buena Vista very special.
The hike today began with a fairly steep climb up to Bald Knob. Even the switchbacks were steep. On the ascent I passed Etch-a-Sketch and shortly afterwards saw Boo Boo taking a rest. Not having seen him since last weekend, I paused to briefly chat. Hiking a little faster, however, I didn’t see him again all day. Within a few minutes I was passed by Puddin’ and Patty-cakes. For the remainder of the day I saw no other north bounders. I did encounter a few southbound section and day hikers including Freed Bird and his dog Colby. Having completed a thru hike in ’06, he now is out on a section hike of about 300 miles. Colby, decked out with blue saddlebags, cooperated for a pic. Don would have really liked Colby.
As I hiked the trail of rocks, roots, leaves, and mud in the cold afternoon wind, I thought of my long deceased granddaddy Harry Andrews. At about the age of ten, I received a Monopoly game for Christmas. After playing the game with me for some time, he declared the game should have been called Monotonous. I could say the same thing for the trail this afternoon. When I finally reached Spy Rock Rd., I had to walk down a rocky blue blazed road for about a mile before being picked up by Earl for the remainder of the ride to the Dutch Haus B &B, a hiker friendly establishment near Montebello. Other hikers here are Chrome Dome and Ranger.
The evening consisted of a delicious dinner prepared by Lois, followed by coffee and conversation. Chrome Dome just competed a section hike yesterday. Ranger, who resides in the DC area, is working on a section hike. Recently retired from the Forestry Service, Ranger talked of trips he and his family had taken in National Parks. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about his travels. Along with his wife Julie, he has hiked in many scenic locations. Again, it was great to talk with a truly interesting fellow AT hiker.
Tomorrow the plan is a 20.3 slack pack that includes the Priest and Three Ridges Mountain. Unlike today, many challenges await. The heel feels good, so I hope I’m up for what the trail has in store. Above all else, I know that tomorrow will provide yet another aspect of adventure as the journey continues on the Appalachian Trail.