Miles Hiked: 8.8
Ending Location: Hogback Ridge Shelter
It was below freezing in the morning so Owl and I left the shelter in our normal leisurely fashion. I stayed a bit to talk to one of the trail maintainers who was cleaning up the mess there. They do an amazing amount of work, much of it not fun like hauling bags of trash and cleaning the privy, for little recognition. The AT wouldn’t be usable if it wasn’t for people like him.
On the hike out Owl heard some meeping/barking noises that sounded like baby animals. I speculated they were fox cubs, Owl guessed they were baby bears. In a display of rare common sense we did not investigate the noises to see what were causing them.
Shortly afterwards we ran into Wiki, Vegemite, and Tog enjoying trail magic in the form of two coolers full of snacks and soda. We of course joined them in partaking of this feast. It’s amazing how unexpected junk food can brighten up your whole day. About 20 feet from that was some more soda someone else had left. Apparently that’s a popular spot for trail angels to leave gifts.
I hate to sound ungrateful but I do have one request for future Good Samaritans. Please don’t leave soda for hikers before a big climb. We’re dumb animals, of course we’ll drink it! Someone could leave soda out tomorrow and I’ll still down it after writing this journal entry. On the other hand, if you are hunting hikers, soda and moon pies are effective snares as they make us lethargic and unable to run away. As you can guess, part way up the next mountain we were all regretting the fact that we don’t learn from past mistakes and burping up a storm.
I wish I could blame the cold start or the soda but today I had no “pep”. I normally like the pace Owl sets as we make good progress but usually I have some reserve left in my tank. Not today, as I was huffing and puffing over every part of the trail. The most likely culprit is a cold as a couple of other hikers have gotten sick since Hot Springs, but I was in denial about that. With bad weather forecasted for that night, (snow and freezing rain), I did decide to continue good idea week and asked Owl if we could stop early at the shelter vs. pushing on and camping which was our original plan. I was in no shape to break apart a tent in the morning if conditions were bad.
We were joined by RoboHiker, an 18 year old who was trying to complete the trail in three months, Noodle , and Studebaker along with her dog Foxy. While I love dogs, them being in the shelters can be problematic. Foxy was very well behaved though and quickly became everyone’s friend. Is it bad that a wet dog smells better than any of us as well? After five days without a shelter we were all smelling pretty ripe.
A lot if the land around this section is privately owned so we’re finding ourselves crossing and traveling next to barbed wire fences all the time. It can make things tricky since the last thing you want to do is stumble/slide into one of those