6/10 Niday Shelter (12.4)

June 10, 2013 at 2:02 pm

There is dissension among the ranks. The cult of the white blaze, as some of the hikers have aptly named us, is threatening to mutiny. We were pretty sure that the trail would repay our selfless devotion during the rain month by transitioning into a warm, sunny summer. Instead, we huddled in our shells while the skies unleashed another ugly torrential punishment. There is talk of supplanting the white blaze with an idol, perhaps the golden yellow blaze (driving).

We waited out the rain today on account of my feet (I was pretty sure the leather scraps of shoe I have left couldn’t actually take another soaking.) The sun was hot and the air was extremely humid when we started out, dodging puddles.

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We paused at the (second) largest tree on the AT, an old Oak with a circumference of 18 feet.

As we stood there admiring it, thunder started in the distance and black clouds crept over the tree tops. With 2.7 left to the next shelter, it didn’t look like we could outrun the storm, but we tried. The thunder got louder as we rushed across an open field.

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These make outrunning weather very difficult.

We reached the trees as sprinkles started and threw our rain gear on. Then the sky really opened up and we got drenched as we fought our way uphill against another mudslide. We regrouped at the top of our climb, where we realized that the shelter we were headed to was half a mile down the ridge, off of the AT. It was also a poor water source, passing hikers told us. This added a new problem, since we had just climbed a ridge without water on what actually was a hot day. We knew there should be more in 5 miles, and the map made the hike look flat, so we pushed on without worrying.

As my soggy shoes fell apart around my feet and rendered my moleskin useless, we started over some exposed rock ledges. These continued for about a mile and took us over an hour in the rain. The opaque, viewless sky laughed at us while we slipped, skidded, and fell along the way. Mark and I fared much better than Don Quixote, though, who learned the hard way the downside of hiking in a kilt when his bare bottom had a long conversation with a rough rock on his slide down the ledge. We managed to laugh through most of the ordeal, which was eventually very funny.

We finally reached the water after a few hours of tricky navigation and, soon after, the shelter. We had expected to do a lot more than a meek 12 miles, but we felt much better when we found a group of familiar faces in the shelter who had zeroed to avoid the storm. Among them was the infamous Icarus, who has been hiding frivolous treasures around the trail, such as plastic dinosaurs, gems, starfish, and the occasional monkey shrine holding candy. After our day, we were ready for some whimsy and we took turns shooting his bow.