5/23 Wise Shelter

May 23, 2013 at 1:41 pm

It will not stop raining. It has rained almost every single day in the last 30 days. We are so completely, thoroughly damp in a way that no dryer can remedy. We are craving sunlight and dry trails wildly, since now every root and rock is a potential saboteur and our wet clothes are jealously conspiring to chafe away our vulnerable skin.

This was written by a very bitter camper early in the morning, when the sky was full of ugly, anemic little rain drops that splattered against our tent and squirmed through the seams to wet our sleeping bags.  Since then, I have learned to be a little bit braver.  At the time though, we were on the brink of leaving the woods again and finding shelter for our sanity.

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We hiked back to the road after hours of deliberating about the rain in our increasingly soggy tent.  When we reached it, though, we realized we needed to do this, and that it would only get better, and we turned back around and headed North again, up into the Grayson Highlands.  We were so glad that we took a chance and ignored the rain.
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It was still foggy at Buzzard Rock, but by the time we began climbing over the bald highlands, the sky cleared and the sun came through.
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The day was cloudy but pleasant, with beautiful bucolic views of farmlands and the rocky ridges that separated them.

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We had heard about the famous wild ponies that lived in the highlands and often licked the salt off of surprised tourists.  We hoped to have a good encounter but, as we approached the first herd we saw, a dark storm cloud began moving very rapidly towards us.  Exposed on the ridge, we pushed on as quickly as we could and tried to outrun it.
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Only two and a half miles from the shelter the storm broke over us and completely soaked us.  The wind was intense and nearly blew us over and, just as we tried to fight for treeline, the rain turned to hail and began pelting us.  We pathetically crouched behind the only tree on the grassy bald until the hail subsided and then made a run for the woods.
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The rest of the hike was a very wet one; our boots were already soaked so we lost our caution regarding the puddles and tromped through to the shelter.  Just as we reached it, the storm died down and turned to a light mist.  Shivering and squishing, we pulled off our wet clothes in the safety of a dry space and watched a double rainbow appear in the sky in front of us.  We are so glad to be hiking the AT.
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