Location: Unknown Shelter
I got a late start on the 18 mile day today. I tend to start hiking late when I don’t have a full day to hike. Of course, 18 miles is a long distance. I always think that days in the teens will pass more quickly than they actually do. No matter what the mileage, I tend to be moving from sunup to sundown.
The terrain gave me a lot of problems today. We only had a couple major climbs. They weren’t so difficult. The ridgeline walks were the hardest parts. I spent much of the afternoon listening to ESPN radio and nodding to weekend day hikers as I dealt with the loose rocks on the trail. Frustration mounted today as my ankles began to hurt because I constantly rolled them on the rocks. The weather reports issued a wind advisory for most of the day. Gusts over 40 mph wreaked havoc on the fall trees. Leaves fell hard with every gust. By the afternoon, the fall season had left the mountains. Only bare trees remained. Gray branches let the sun’s light penetrate to the forest floor. For once, I wished I had my sunglasses, as the AT was no longer the long green tunnel.
I hiked with Druid over one long stretch of ridgeline where the trail followed a slanted rock surface for miles. It the rocks had been wet, the walk would have been tremendously dangerous. At some points on the trail, if a person had slipped, he might have slid forty feet off the mountain side.
The leaves provided a dangerous obstacle in addition to the rocks. Several times I slipped and fell as I navigated the rocks and tried to follow the white blazes. Druid slipped once and as he tried to maintain his balance he snapped a Leki in half. The trekking pole cleanly broke in the lower section.
I was relieved when we finally arrived at the shelter. The 18 mile day had taken all day and I felt more tired than I had the last two days. I was fed up at the shelter, and so was everyone else. The day had been unexpectedly difficult and none of us had been prepared for the trial.
Tonight I ate dinner and snacked sparingly. I am close to not having enough food to make town comfortably tomorrow. I only have a few snacks, a pack of tuna, and a Mexican omelet Natural High meal. I don’t know if I’ll be able to cook the last item. It requires ingredients and utensils I don’t have. I’m sure I’ll manage, I might be only slightly hungry for the day.