It stopped raining that morning, but it looked threatening out. I woke around 10 in Little Laurel Shelter, finding just Snail, Empress and I still occupying the shelter. Snail was on the way out, so Empress and I were left at the shelter to eat and pack. We took our time, leaving the shelter by 11. I soon overtook both of them on the trail. Just after noon, something rather curious happened. Thick, black clouds overtook the sun, soupy green and grey fog mixing with the trees and brush. It got frighteningly dark out, enough that I had to put on my headlamp to see. It's a shame you can't get them with fog light filters. The Dr. Who-ish scene was driven into the ground by a pouring rain that quickly followed the fog. It was chilly enough out that I wore my rain jacket, as opposed to simply getting wet. We all took a welcome break after 6.8 miles at Jerry Cabin Shelter.
In the shelter was a light, phone and a mailbox. There was not, however, electricity, a phone line or postal service. But it's a start, and enough to put a smile on my face in the rain.
Some people have asked my how I bear hiking in the rain. The fact is that it's really not that bad, if you just smile. I am not one of those ridiculously upbeat people who laugh in the face of misery, who grin at funerals. I have learned, over the last few weeks, how to make the best of a situation, how to be happy when you have nothing else. One person e-mailed me and pointed out how much we all, as children, enjoyed playing in the rain. But our mothers never let us. And now that we're grown, why don't we just play in the rain? And so I do, I smile, I splash, and I tilt my head back and watch the drops careen down towards my face, sending myself into blinking spasms and giggling fits. Go outside. Play in the rain.
Much of our afternoon was spent winding through grass-lined trail surrounded by trees, wet stalks whipping and soaking my legs, seeds sticking to my calves and rain gators. A lot of the trail was submurged under a few inches of water, making any attempt at dry feet completely futile. We had read of a trail relo in this section, avoiding a difficult and rocky descent. When I got to it, the relocated portion was blue-blazed, the old trail still white-blazed. While I knew that the trail had been officially relocated to the blue-blaze, I still couldn't bring myself to skip a white-blazed section. I later found out that we had all done the more difficult white-blazed section.
We made the 12.7 miles to Flint Mountain Shelter by late afternoon. Lone Wolf, who I'd last seen on the Jump-Up out of NOC, and High Tech were there. There was a nice water source nearby, a small stream, and it had stopped raining. We hung out our clothes to dry. I took a look at the shelter log, to see how far ahead some of my original friends were ahead. Botony Boy and Florida Dave were a good week ahead, Purple Pirate and Blaze Blind even farther, The Brothers about four days ahead, with Smokey Mo and Heidi Gone Burglar. I couldn't help but wonder if I'd ever catch up to any of them.
We all ate dinner and dried out. We went to sleep soon after dark, mouse-free and quiet.
Miles Today: 12.7 Today's Song: "Singin' In The Rain"