I woke to the puttering of rain on my tent. I checked the weather on my phone and saw that it would end around mid morning. I took my time around the site, reading, texting and finally, once the drizzle stopped, packing up. My day was light anyways, only 8.5 miles.
I was about halfway into my hike, when more rain came. I always remember that saying that if you run in the rain you get more wet then if you walked. Sooooo I took that a step farther and just sat on a rock everytime it began to drizzle. There was a lot of sitting.
I was leap frogging with a bunch of thru hikers at this point. I talked to this one hiker who was convinced there was no such thing as hiking legs. Good, I thought, I can use that excuse for being a crappy hiker.
I got to the shelter earlier then expected, but also on perfect time, because about five minutes later a thunder storm came in. I hung around with the hikers in there. My favorite was a German hiker who took a nap and when the storm was done, he peaked his head out of his sleeping bag and looked completely confused as to where he was.
The site was really nice, on top of a mountain overlooking the clouds and pine trees. It was also really fucking cold. Rumors were temperatures hit to 42 that night. I tried to make this better by eating a whole thing of velveeta and talking to some old Boy Scouts about scout gossip. It worked.
I had originally planned to go to the shelter nine miles away. This plan failed miserably.
I left the site early and hiked like crazy. I feel like I need to add alittle more personal detail to this day. At this point I was having mid morning breakdowns almost every day. They varied on what, but mainly, it was about being alone in the woods, hiking and what that really meant to me. And I didn’t think this was a bad thing ( I actually still don’t). I’m at a crazy point of my life and I think it’s normal to get emotional about this.
So anyway, I was worried while hiking because I had heard the weather for Monday was rain all day. I was suppose to hike Stratton mountain that day, one of my hardest peaks. I got to my planned shelter early, at around 2. I talked to the same hikers as yesterday and they all agreed, crazy rain for tomorrow. I sighed a series of curse words under my breath.
I had three options.
- Hike till it got dark or I couldn’t hike anymore and pitch my tent in a clearing.
- Hike Stratton and stay at the shelter at its base.
- Stay at my current shelter and hike Stratton in the rain.
I went for option number 1. The Stratton shelter was 10 miles away. I would see how I felt after 5 miles and if it was fine, keep going. I did the five miles in less then 2 hours, which is what I planned in my head. I was at the base of Stratton at around 4 (I keep saying around because I don’t have a watch). I had 4 hours of daylight and 5 miles left. I said screw it and went for it. Option 2 it was.
Stratton mountain is important for the AT because it’s the summit on which Benton MacKaye was inspired to create it. I got to the top beyond exhausted. I talked to the caretaker and saw the view. It was spectacular and made this feel purposeful. It made all the emotions, those tiny tears I had in the morning and the insane exhaustion worth it. It’s pretty cool that a pile of rocks and tree can do that. I’m also v basic.
I ran down that mountain as fast as I could without falling. I just made camp right before it got dark. I sped ate rice and passed right out. I had hiked 19 miles in day, a personal best I never thought I could do.