Thursday, April 7, 2011

March 26

I consider today the first real test of my was the first day of rain I've had on the trail. I woke up at about 4:30 this morning when the rain started (the old shelter had a tin roof). It slacked off a bit around 6 and then picked up again, but the 4 of us (Phil, AJ, Justin, and I) in the shelter stayed dry thanks to the makeshift walls. It's hard to get up and moving when you know you're going to have to hike in the rain all day, but I left camp a little before 9 and stepped outside into the pouring rain, thunder, and lightning. And pour rain it did! Where the trail wasn't a total mudhole, there was water standing or running through it. Basically I walked in a stream all day, but my feet stayed surprisingly dry. (A+++ on my boots...I forgive them for the ripped eyelet because I absolutely love everything else about them.) The rest of me was waterproof gloves didn't last long as water began seeping in through the cuffs. The rain cover on my pack collected water at the bottom so I had to stop periodically and drain it. The good things about today? Double trail magic! The first was at Bearpen Gap, right before the ascent of Albert Mountain. Three hikers were set up there with a tent and offered fruit, carrots, coffee, pop, and pancakes! The guy cooking told me to hold out my hand and he plopped a warm pancake into it. So nice! They had butter and syrup and I ate the sloppiness right out of my hands. It was amazing. After hanging around under the tent I headed up Albert Mountain in the still pouring rain...a steep climb with lots of large boulders that required lots of big steps. If you've never climbed a mountain in the pouring rain, it's kind of amazing. I got to the top and climbed the fire tower since the thunder had ceased. I couldn't see much because of the fog but the whole setting gave me chills and just felt awesome. "How Great Thou Art" came to mind and I kind of sang it to myself on top of the mountain. Very cool.
I continued on (I make good time in the rain because I don't take breaks!) To Rock Gap Shelter, where I am sleeping inside with AJ, Phil, Bobby, Don, Justin, Daisy, and Stanley because of the rain. When I got here, someone mentioned trail magic just down the trail so I headed that way and got free pizza, chips, and cookies from former thru-hikers! An awesome ending to a challenging day. It is still raining now and is supposed to rain tomorrow as well. We are headed into Franklin in the morning and may stay there tomorrow night depending on the weather. Either way, I survived my first day of rain but am looking forward to sunny days ahead!
On another note, I passed the 100-mile mark today!!
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