Location: Unknown Shelter
The Bear Mafia wakes up early. I woke up with them, ready for a 23 mile day. This morning was warm. Finally I could get out of my sleeping bag and enjoy the morning. I ate breakfast at the picnic table and left the shelter casually.
The first obstacle today was a climb to the top of Tinker Cliffs, so named because a group of American Civil War deserters made camp on the cliffs and repaired pots and pans to make a living. We walked a half mile along the cliffs. The leaves in the valley below the cliffs offered an amazing sight. Too bad the day was overcast. Certainly the colors would be much richer in bright sunlight.
Leap-frogging with different members of the Bear Mafia was fun today, sharing short conversations with people I hadn’t seen since the beginning of the hike. We all took a long break on McAfee Knob, the most photographed spot on the AT. The rock outcropping on the cliff offers a spectacular photo opportunity. We all took turns having our pictures taken after creeping to the edge of the rock.
We wrapped up the long day with a hellacious climb up Dragon’s Tooth in a light rain. The climb, with rebar steps and slippery rocks, reminded me of many climbs in Maine. It was a tough climb to finish the day and I was wiped out after the climb. When we left the shelter this morning we counted the climb up Dragon’s Tooth as one of the easier among the climbs today, judging by the contours of the profile map. The climb proved to be the most difficult I’ve encountered in Virginia.
I arrived at the shelter just before dark. The shelter was a half mile off the trail, an absurdly long distance when the steps don’t count towards Springer Mountain. We didn’t share many stories tonight. We were all too tired. We ate dinner, washed up, and went to bed hoping that the rain in the forecast would come and go in the night, sparing us from a miserable hike tomorrow.