The Appalachian Trail traverses the dense, moss-covered spruce-fir understory near the summit of Old Black in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Photo taken by Brian Stansberry

Wet n wrigglin with a cocoa nightcap

May 1st

As a junior high student in San Diego, we used to have a May Day festival on May 1st, when the date fell on a school day, and there was dancing around a May Pole. All night long the rain has been dancing off my tent, with great help from the high velocity gusts of wind. While it’s not yet time to wake, I’m a little anxious about beginning my day, after dressing in my rain gear and packing in my tent, rushing my rain covered pack to under the small eaves of the shelter, before returning to my wet tent to take it down, roll it up, pack it wet, then secure in my pack. I definitely have had 3 of the required ingredients: rain and pain. Maine is yet to come, after much more rain no doubt and some more pain. I started the day getting wet while folding up my wet and muddy tent, only to have to take my loaded pack apart, when I discovered that I folded my pack cover in my tent. I had to roll out my wet and muddy tent then fold it again to put it into my pack. I bring my pack and all into my tent each night, to avoid rain or condensation.

Clouds breaking up after a rainy morning in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Photo taken from the Deep Gap overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway in western North Carolina, with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50. Photo by Ken Thomas — KenThomas.us

After getting caught in a heavy rain storm for about 2 miles, the rain stopped and the sky cleared as the day went on. It was a layer day, starting in long pants, long shirt and rain gear, then eventually a short sleeve shirt and shorts. I completed my 13.5 miles hike to Trimpi Shelter, then immediately, after finding a flat tent spot, I scattered my wet tent, rainfly and rain coat and pants about the bushes and branches. After 2 hours, all was dry for making my bed and putting away clothes. Rain gear is necessary for heavy rain but I get soaked anyway from my sweat. Hiking up and down mountains for up to 9 hours is sweaty work and the rain gear keeps the sweat on my clothes. Sometimes it’s best to hike in rain without rain gear, which I’ve done and will continue to do on a regular basis. Dinner of pasta vegetable Alfredo, followed by my nightcap of hot cocoa with marshmallows. While it’s only 7:30pm, I’m exhausted and in my bed for the night. The other 5 here are sleeping in the shelter. I understand the convenience of not having to put up and take down a tent, but I sleep so much better in my tent. My next day is short, only 9.5 miles to Partnership Shelter, where I plan to tent about 200 yards from there. It’s near the Mt Rogers Visitor Center, where I can borrow their phone to make a reservation for a room at the Relax Inn in Atkins. I need to wash clothes, shower and clean my tent, as well as prepare a package of clothing to send to SF. I expect that I’ll need no more winter warm clothes until the White Mountains in NH and ME. Also, I’m sending my unfitting pants, which are 34" waist, when I now have a 32" waist.

Raw, Moose, Chainsaw, Lt Dan and Snake were at Old Orchard Shelter today. I only stopped at Old Orchard for an hour long lunch break. While there and as I was packing to leave, Pops and The Kid stopped to camp for the night. The Kid mentioned, while his Pops wasn’t within listening range, that he was concerned that they had not brought enough food til there next resupply stop. I gave them my extra dinner meal. I always care an extra days food for unplanned emergency purposes. Lambo, Spirit, Spaghetti Legs, Snake and Tick (with his German Shepard dog) are here at Trimpi and are the the inhabitants of the shelter.

Good night.