Thursday, April 7, 2011

March 28

Breakfast this morning was amazing! A big van came to the motel and shuttled us over to the Baptist church where we got all-you-can-eat pancakes and bacon. So amazing! It poured the rain during the night and was still drizzling in the morning so the group debated taking a late start to the trail but ultimately decided that "it isn't going to walk itself" and we took the early shuttle back to Winding Stair Gap. We stepped out into a cold misty drizzle that lasted most of the morning. At least it wasn't "raining" and I stayed mostly dry. The trail took some gradual ups and downs with nothing too difficult. I hiked with Bobby, Phil, and AJ for most of the day. We came across Siler Bald and Wayah Bald but neither had good views as it was too foggy. We arrived at Wayah Bald Shelter mid-afternoon after 11-ish miles and are staying here tonight. The shelter is fairly new (and it's cold tonight!) so I decided to sleep inside. I had quite the time hanging my bear bag...Bobby taught us all how to hang using the PCT method (in which the bag is not tied off to a tree because bears can sometimes figure that out) and I'm still perfecting it. A few nights ago I made the branch I was aiming for on the first throw but tonight it took me something like 10 tries to get it right. "After dinner entertainment" is what everyone called it. After lots of poor throws and knotted rope I finally got the bag up and (hopefully) secure.
I've been camping with the same group of people consistently and I don't know if I've mentioned everyone's names or not so I'll do that now. Phil and AJ are both 25 and started the trail together; they met while in Samoa in the Peace Corps. Don (trail name Happy Pappy) is 60 and is a pastor from West Virginia. Bobby (trail name Muffin Man), 35 (I think?), is from Texas and worked for Marriott. Justin (trail name Shepherd...the one with the dog, Daisy) is 31 and from Indianapolis and decided just about a month ago to quit his job in business and hike the trail. Ever since the night we were all camped at the old cheese factory we have basically been sticking together. For the most part we hike at our own paces and meet up at night, although we see and pass each other frequently on the trail and sometimes stop for lunch together. It's a pleasant crowd and I've been enjoying my time with them; I don't know how long we will all stick together but it's nice for the time being.
There are lots and lots of people out here so the shelters have been pretty crowded; most people congregate in the same areas at night but get spread out in the daytime. It's comforting to see familiar faces and to run into the same people day after day. This experience so far has been incredible and I can't wait to see what will happen during each new day.
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