April 26. We left the hotel around 9 AM but made sure to stick around to get the latest local weather forecast first. The TV anchor said “Severe thunderstorms, torrential downpours, and high winds expected this morning…” Click, time to go hiking! Not even a mile in the storms started. Lightening, rolling crashes of thunder, and torrential downpours. The rain was really coming down and we were soaked! Pretty quickly the trails turned into water ways and rushing streams. Most of the time there was no way to avoid the rushing water. We found a washed out stream crossing that was so flooded that when we crossed the water covered our ankles and flooded our shoes. Gore-Tex is decently good at keeping the water out of my shoes…it is fantastic at keeping the water in my shoes! For most of the day I walked with so much water in my shoes that it sloshed up over the top of my foot with every step. The storms stopped by noon and the rest of the hike was still soggy, but more comfortable. We came to a river crossing where the trail uses a automobile bridge to cross but so much rain had come down that the river had risen to almost a foot over the road. The water rushed over the bridge and made white caps on the other side. None of us really wanted to cross it but the AT was on the other side. Luckily a nice older lady came out from her farm house and let us know how to get around the river. We had to walk a mile or so around on some roads but we caught back up with the trail on the other side. Some other hikers said they waded in to check it when they passed but most turned back when it got thigh or waist deep. We all decided that following the white blazes may not be worth risking your life in flood waters. As we walked around the bulging river we heard some loud cracks and crashes and looked in the water to see a whole tree floating down river and breaking things off the river banks on either side. Had we tried to cross and seen that coming towards us it would have been over! We made the 12 mile hike to the shelter to find several other hikers setting up for the night and drying out. I dried my socks by the fire and got them a bit too toasty and that night my tent smelled like burnt hiker socks…not a good smell. I doubt that we will see this scent in the Yankee Candle lineup anytime soon.
April 27. It poured rain last night! I woke up and remember thinking it was the hardest rain I’ve heard in the tent so far. I woke up warm and dry in the morning…another successful night for the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1 tent! We hiked out from the shelter and through a valley and crossed a few flooded streams and successfully kept our feet dry. We hiked 2,000 feet up to a mountain ridge line and started hiking the ridge trail. We had been looking forward to some ridge line trails, nice and flat…we thought. It turned out to be rocky and a little bit of up, then a little down…a little up, then a little down. It didn’t take long to realize that a lot of a little is still A LOT! We felt pretty worn out really fast. At one point two hawks were soaring overhead for a mile or so and Ryan commented that the hawks must be thinking “They smell like they are dead, but they keep on moving, I don’t get it!” I thought maybe they were stalking us as prey thinking “They keep moving slower and slower. Eventually they will fall over and die!” We crossed a huge section of an old rock slide. While crossing the rocks we could hear the sound of a rushing mountain stream but we could see no water because it was all flying down the slopes under the rocks, a pretty incredible experience. When we are hiking near the 4,000 foot level there is still very little action going on. Some grass and smaller plants are starting to grow, but there are very few leaves on the trees. Once we get closer to the 3,000 foot level and below spring is in full swing and flowers are starting to bloom and the leaves are coming out. It is interesting to see the difference in elevation vegetation every day on our hikes. We started hiking today around 8 AM and pulled into camp around 7 PM, a great day and a good 19 miles behind us!
April 28. Woke up a little later today and got on the trail. Flosser’s legs were hurting him quite a bit yesterday and 5 miles into the hike today he thought he better find a way into town to visit a clinic. Just then a white pickup truck came up the mountain road and we waved it down and Flosser hitched a ride to town. He said he’d get his legs checked out and lay low for a few days and meet us at our next resupply stop. After that Meat and I pumped out 19 more miles in just under 7 hours. The last 10 miles we did in 3 hours flat. The trail was a ridge line and a little better than the previous day’s trail, but still, 24 miles was a tough day and our longest hike yet! We made it to the shelter to find a bunch of our hiking buddies and one SOBO, a southbound hiker. He was a weird one. At first I thought he was just awkward, but as the night went on he talked about the Nazi Party, North Korean soldiers, ninjas on the AT, and he spent a good 20 minutes showing Meat how to channel his “inner rage” to be a more productive fighter or something. By the time I went to bed I told Meat that I wished I could lock my tent…interesting night and interesting stories!
April 30. We woke up before 6 AM and packed our bags and started hiking. We were on a mission…Pizza Hut buffet for lunch! We hiked a fast 8.5 miles in under 3 hours and made it to town and the hotel to take much needed showers. We put on our least smelly clothes and headed down to the buffet. After totally filling ourselves with pizza we stopped and did our laundry and headed back to the hotel. We relaxed all afternoon and had some good Mexican food for dinner. The hotel we were staying in was like most of the others we’ve been in…economical. These hotels are perfect for hikers, but most other people would probably not stay there. And, like most of the other hotels we have stayed in, this one seemed to have a high number of rooms that are long term occupancy…like people live here like living in an apartment complex. It is hard to explain, but these small mountain towns are interesting places to visit! We are planning to take one zero day, a day with no hiking, and then get back on the trail on Wednesday.
Good reading, man. Keep it up!