I left the hostel that morning ready to go. Even the hostel caretaker commented on my readiness. I was rested and ready to kick the trails butt.
I was beginning to realize that the pain in my feet would become numb after around mile number 2. That morning, I was thrown right back into the trail. My first peak back was Mt. Bromley. It was around 3 miles uphill. I took it slow at first but then slowly started getting back into the swing of things. I was up the mountain in two hours. I was disappointed in how little pictures I had taken on the first leg of the trip. Since I was only going to be out for four days, I decided I was going to take a lot more.
Really killing the selfie game….
That afternoon while getting water, I met some of my favorite people on the trail. Her name was Ellie and her husband’s name was Bob. Bob was thru hiking and Ellie was joining him for a section. When she asked me my trail name, I said I didn’t have one because it didn’t feel right as a section hiker to be involved in that part of thru hiking culture. She immediately agreed, a first. She asked me where I lived and I said Baltimore. She went off about Natty Bohs, Orioles, row homes, and I learned she lived in the D.C area. She asked me why I was stopping for water here when there was a shelter close by. I pointed to a leaf that had become a natural faucet, perfect for filling up. She said she barely knew who I was but she already loved me. I completely agreed. She was warm, hilarious, and enthusiastic; a perfect to person to meet in the afternoon when hiking can get draining.
I got to the shelter around 2. I had originally planned for this to be my shelter for the night, but had heard of spotty weather for the weekend. The weather was beautiful on Thursday, so I decided to keep hiking and do my 15 miles then. The views in my later half of the hike were infamously better then my first leg.
I had to climb a slanted rock for .3 miles up. I turned around, legs shaking, to see mountains towering over me.
Just pine trees and hidden lakes.
I got to the shelter and was the first one there. The shelter was strange, it was right next to a fast moving brook. A mermaid was painted on it. It reminded me of a little bungalow. I set my tent up and began to do my post trail chores (gather water, put up the bear bag, set up my stove, put on my night time clothes).
The shelter area started gathering people. A couple I had stayed with at the hostel had caught up, as well as a man with a grumpy dog. We gathered around the fire circle and talked. The couple told me some trail gossip of eclectic individuals who probably should not have been on the trail. The man with the dog talked about life with a dog on the trail and camping around the west. He was a social worker too and when I told him my plan about combining art and social work, he was super supportive. Another section hiker popped by and a solo female thru hiker. That night was the latest I had stayed up on the trail yet. We talked about trail relationships, life outside the trail, why we were there. This was one of my first nights I felt a real sense of trail community. My bubble was beginning to pop, I was starting to make acquaintances and actually getting trail culture.
The next morning, I packed up fast and began hiking. The trail that morning was nice as it was parallel with the brook I had camped next too. It’s refreshing to hike next to water because there is less stress to find water to purify when theres some right next to you. Again, my timing was getting better. I had accomplish more miles that morning and I again made the executive decision to hike another 15 mile day. The weather was good, and better then the forecast for Saturday, which was all rain. Occasionally, there was a shower or two, but it was so mild I didn’t even put my pack rain cover on. When you are in a green tunnel, it has to be pouring for you to really need rain coverage.
The day was filled with nice surprises, though no killer vistas. There was another hidden lake. There was also some Andy Goldsworthy esque rock art. It was really funny to be hiking among all these beautiful pines and then BAM, you are in an intricate rock art zone. I ran into the section hiker from the night before who was determined to get to Killington by Sunday. I shook my head in disbelief and wished her luck. I knew her feet were just as bad as mine.
The shelter I was staying at was one of the first I have been to that is named after a woman. I don’t know if she is real, but Minerva Hinchey’s shelter was very interesting as it had pained glass windows. Because it was reported to rain the night before, I decided to sleep in the shelter. The sole female thru hiker from the night before was staying at the same shelter as well as another male thru hiker. Since there were only three of us, I ended up pitching my tent inside the shelter. I just hated the idea of mice running around me.
That night was another great night on the AT. The three of us chatted and ate together. The sole female hiker was artsy and great company to talk to. A SOBO male thru hiker joined the crew as well and surprisingly, I had met part of his trail family a week earlier. We all really got along, talking about art, school, people on the trail, and life on the trail. The solo female hiker joined the shelter crew after we warned her of the many threats of rain. There were jokes about my tent, what a noob I was, how you can tell the difference between someone who is thru hiking vs. section hiking and also about how SOBO hikers are weird, lonely people. We all slept in the shelter like a big slumber party. As I went to bed, I felt a little upset that this was my second to last night on the trail. I was finally getting into it and it was almost over.