We woke to another grey and overcast day, fearing rain. Had the ol' oatmeal breakfast, leaving camp last, around 11. I was low on food. I would clearly not make it 34 miles to Erwin today. The day's plan was 18.5 miles to Bald Mountain Shelter, leaving 15 for the following day to get to Erwin. In this weather, however, it's hard to make good milage. And I suppose I'd do better if I left shelters before, say, 11.
The morning ended up being sunny, bright, and a little misty. There was a lot of climbing involved that day, hills with abandoned, overgrown shacks, some with trees growing up right inside of them. It's amazing to me that people lived / live like that. Everything looked very green during much of the morning, the sun filtering through the leaves, drowning my world in delicious chloryphyll.
Around noon I passed a small waterfall to my left, a little ways up a stream lined with slick rocks. For a picture's sake, silly me tried to climb those falls. That didn't work out too well, as a series of small scars on my right forearm now attest to. Returning to the trail, as I was writhing on the ground in agony, I spotted something -- a blue M&M. Somebody had left one in the trail, knowing I'd be passing by? I've got a thing about blue M&Ms, a bone to pick with that company. To keep things short -- just say 'no' to blue M&Ms.
In any case, I had a series of tiring climbs, resulting in copious amounts of sweat. This is why, half an hour later, I was quite glad when it absolutely poured. I caught up to Empress just after it started, who was also excited that it was raining. By mid-afternoon we'd gone 8.8 miles to Hogback Ridge Shelter. Empress and I planned on taking a few minutes off and continuing onward. Those plans collapsed with a clap of thunder and a flash of lightning, followed by one of the most amazing downpours I've ever witnessed. After "Waldo Does Something Extremely Stupid" during my first week, I no longer hike in thunderstorms. Period. Snail and High Tech provided extra food for me to make it to Erwin. We had the same ol' gang in the shelter that evening, Lone Wolf, Snail, Tech, Empress and myself. The water source was stupidly, laughably far away, a little spring so far off that there were two relos due to fallen trees. By the time you got there you really needed that water.
We talked all evening, laughing off the rain and smiling away the clouds. It was one of the more enjoyable evenings I've had on the trail. Barbie, however, didn't seem to enjoy the experience from the firepit out front. Poor Barbie.
"I know a planet where there is a certain red-faced gentleman. He has never smelled a flower. He has never looked at a star. He has never loved anyone. He has never done anything in his life but add up figures. And all day he says over and over, just like you: 'I am busy with matters of consequence!' And that makes him swell up with pride. But he is not a man - he is a mushroom!" - The Little Prince, Antoine De Saint-Exupery
Miles Today: 8.8 Song Stuck in my Head Today: Squirrel Nut Zippers, "La Grippa"