I’ve been dodging storms and stuck in many of them. On the trail, huddled under an impromptu tarp shelter, in my tent, or in a shelter. A tropical depression sat over this area last week, and now the outer band castoffs from a Gulf Coast hurricane has steady pelted the region.
I’ve been wet, cold, and miserable at times, as well as conjuring stints of “embracing the suck” and accepting it all. I’ve already traveled 45 miles since my “100 mile” post. All of it grinding it out in the rain, it’s nearly nonstop. I’m really glad I paid the $12 for Pandora and downloaded every song I’ve ever given a “thumbs up” to and brought my bluetooth speaker. Blasting good tunes during the grind really helps.
I now have two more nominations for trail names, GoPro and Trail Tunes. The former two were Lonestar and Ghost. What do you think?
Back to the rain, Solo and I made it to Cold Spring Shelter after our overnight up in the stone tower on Wayah Bald. My stuff got to wet up there. It was a mistake. All the clouds in the valley channeled right up to us all night. Things were soaked.
After 7 miles like that, all in the rain, it was tough to pass up our first shelter. We crawled into Cold Spring early and did what we could to wring and hang things out. I used what few clothes items I still had dry to warm up, and basically slept in the shelter during steady downpours all afternoon in miserable fashion. Waking up even more cold and wet, we both set out to make a fire, hurricane be damned.
We had a few more shelter mates by this time. Rose, a recent college graduate from Maine, hiking home. DJ, who like Arthur, is determined to hike home with big changes. And Wolverine, a retired 20+ year army vet. All of them, especially Wolverine, looked doubtful Solo and I could get a fire going. It’s been raining here for 2 weeks after all. Honestly I was too, but it was getting to that necessity level for me. 68 degrees and cold wet for that many hours takes it toll.
After 15 minutes of successful foraging and 15 minutes of wood preparation, with the “lighter knot” that Solo found and the large load of dry wood I scored, along with a few squirts of hand sanitizer and we had a fire raging 10 minuets later.
We were all drying out more wood and steaming our shoes and socks within minutes. I must admit, it was the best damn fire starting I’ve ever done, and we made it look damn easy. Wolverine was really impressed and remarked a couple times we have to be the only shelter in North Carolina with a fire.
I scored dry wood from the under side of a huge fallen tree that was split well already. I used a wedge shaped rock, a “hammer” rock and my knife to break off a bunch of slices of dry wood until I couldn’t carry anymore. Solo used his large knife to hack off a few areas of fallen pine tree branches with good sap. With a few extra minutes of cracking, splitting and shaving our collection, the build, light and stoke was simple. It’s amazing to look at a drenched forest and know there’s still dry wood everywhere, if you can just get to it… well you can, easier than you would imagine with some observation.
The next day we made it 12.5 miles, again much in the rain. The trail turns into a creek at this point, and if it weren’t for my poles there’d be more than a few good spills.
I made it to Rufus Shelter by 4:30, setup my tent, hung the food, and did a quick clean up before vaulting down the rest of the 0.8 miles downhill to the NOC.
Nantahala Outdoor Center is a complex for adventure sports with a couple restaurants and resupply. I quickly found myself inhaling a half pound burger and fries above the Nantahala River, and boy it’s flowing good!
Time to head back up to camp. Hoping to grab a spot down here tomorrow and skip a day of rain and dry my gear. I might investigate a half day river trip, the flow of the water is insanely good right now. It’s hard to time up a great rafting trip if you don’t live close to a river.
As I write this at night in my tent, something medium sized is directly outside meandering about. This would be the fourth night of such occurrence. Two of which were for sure bears. I’m beginning to feel better about the bears in this area not really wanting to eat me, just my food.
I’d also feel better at the moment if I didn’t just remember I have half a snack bar I didn’t finish leftover in the hip pocket of my backpack from lunch. I’ve been doing good about storing all wrapper trash in a ziplock and either trashing it at hostels, hanging or burning it before bed. With the distraction of hamburgers on the river, I didn’t do my chores… freaky, lesson learned. Finger crossed… night.