Tuesday, May 28th

Yuck. The morning at Hogback Ridge Shelter was not an attractive one. We all had a feeling that it would stop raining that morning, and all decided to wait it out. It did, in fact, stop raining around 10 AM. While Lone Wolf left as soon as the rain slowed, most of us didn't get out until around noon. Today we'd planned on 9.7 miles to Bald Mountain Shelter, leaving me with exactly enough food to get to Erwin, if I played my cards right at the gap that day with Empress.

A few miles into the trip was when I started to hear US 23 in Sams Gap, three miles down which was the Little Creek Cafe, where I hoped to acquire a burger. Just before I hit the road, three dogs saw fit to attack me. I few swings of my walking stick and a piece of beef jerky shut them up. I bushwhacked back around through the woods, hoping to warn the others before they had to contend with the pups. Tech, Snail, Empress and I walked back down the trail together, apparantly more than the three dogs felt they could handle. Empress and I hitched down to the cafe, getting a ride in about fifteen minutes with some construction workers in a pickup truck. While ordering at the Little Creek Cafe, I'd mentioned how little money I had to Empress, and a fellow walking by gave me $3. $3 meant I could get a drink and fries to go with that burger. People sure are cool.

Empress and I heard that there was a store just down the road, where we'd hoped to buy some goodies to bring to Lone Wolf, Tech and Snail. About .5 miles down there was what, I suppose, some may consider a store. It looked like somebody's kitchen. A woman in her 50s with dyed black hair watched over us. Lampshades and car parts littered the floor, and a bed in the back seemed to be her sleeping quarters. We thought that a few lollipops should be safe, which we bought and left. We got a ride back up to the trail in no time, with a fellow driving to New York City from Georgia. Shortly up the trail I passed a Large Cylindrical Building There For No Apparant Reason. From there I climbed up to Big Bald, a really amazing bald with views of Mt. Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi. High Tech and Snail-No-More were there, hoping to watch the sunset. It seemed like a beautiful spot, so I joined them.

The low sun stretched our shadows across the entire bald, the breeze chilled us. We cooked dinner up there, beneath the blue dome of the heavens, bathed in the orange glow of the setting sun. When the sun had set, we raced the darkness across the ridge, across fields of poofy grass and between low, scrubby trees. We reached the shelter just before twilight fell, though Empress was nowhere to be seen. So I grabbed my headlamp and went back and helped her in. None of us stayed up too late. We all spread out in this spacious shelter and snoozed away, dreams of Erwin, Tennessee, dancing in our heads.

Miles Today: 9.7 Song Stuck in my Head Today: Tori Amos, "Crucify"

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