There are a few reasons that brought about this line of thinking. One thing is, I am super brave when Shrek is home, but when he is out of town... well that is a whole other thing. See when he is not home I am the girl that turns on every light in every room I pass through to get from one room to another. Can I be in the mountains alone? That is the mental task for me. When Shrek gets ahead of me I know that I must keep going to reach him. When he lags behind me I look forward to his catching up. A kind of catch-me-if-you-can routine.
I had originally decided to hike from Springer Mountain to Neels Gap. Shrek drove me to the A.T. crossing at Big Stamp Gap USFS 42. I got suited up and Shrek hiked to Three Forks with me. Bear Snack and I set off for Hawk Mountain Shelter, where we would spend our first night. I put out my bag in the shelter, made dinner, hung my bear bag, and settled in to read before dark. No one else was at the shelter and the shelter log showed the last overnighters had left 2 days prior. As I sat on my bedroll, I discovered that I was covered in fleas. They were all over the shelter. I quickly setup my tent about 30 feet from the shelter, bedded down, and went back to reading. I heard what sounded like footsteps and thought "Whew, hikers, I am not going to be alone." As I looked out the tent window there stood a bear. Not what I was looking for but I am clearly not alone. The bear hung around for a while and when it had finally wandered off, I moved my tent into the shelter. This way I was protected from the fleas but feeling a bit more secure somehow. I know this is a no-no but I saw no one on the trail all day and it was now past dark, so I don't think we will get an influx of folks needing accommodations. The night was a progression of dozing in and out of sleep to the sounds of mice running all over and around my tent.
In the morning, I was again greeted by the bear. I am thinking he was not far throughout the night. I packed up, had breakfast, and swept the shelter as I waited fro a few storm clouds to pass overhead. About an hour into our days trek, it began to pour. I stopped trailside and setup the tent to get Bear Snack and I out of the rain. Napped for about an hour and left out again towards Gooch Mountain Shelter. Having some momentary clear skies and having lost time both in the morning and afternoon, I pushed past Gooch Shelter and decided to go as far as USFS 42 at Gooch Gap and camp there. I found a great spot and settled in. I still had a few hours of daylight left so I wandered the area, picked up trash, fixed a sign that a fallen tree had broken when a man pulled up in a van and unloaded several large tents. He was with a church group from Florida and had driven ahead to set up camp before the teens hiked in SOBO. The skies had been getting that nasty look again so I offered to help him setup. No sooner had we laid out the first two tents that the heavens opened up again. We got the tents up and maneuvered the large puddles out the doors when the rain stopped and the teens walked into camp. Having done my "good deed" and being soaked to the bone I march back to my tent to change and bed down. I return to find that I had not fully zipped the door shut. Water had been running in the whole time. Bear Snack is perched on top of my pack like an island in the middle of my 2 inch deep bathtub. No dry clothes. More rain on the way. So what do I do? Call home, which is 20 miles away and get Shrek to pick me up. Lessons learned. Yes, a few. I have a few gear changes and alterations before my next hike. Shelters, only plan to use in severe weather conditions and only if it is winter. But that is what these hikes are about. Learning all we can and getting our gear just as we want it prior to our AT Thru in 2015.