Miles Hiked: 10.6
Miles Left: 1849.6
Ending Location: No Business Knob Shelter
While yesterday I had been feeling better, the extreme cold we had last night brought my cold back with a vengeance. I didn’t even think twice about popping open some of my hand warmers and bringing them back into my sleeping bag with me.
That morning was not fun, and was made worse by the fact that we couldn’t filter water since the small spring by the shelter was muddy and my filter kept freezing up on me. Add in the fact that my boots were frozen solid and I was not a happy camper.
The first section of the trail today was a ridge line walk up Little Bald mountain. The wind was crazy strong and combined with the cold made it feel like we were climbing Everest. This was the first time I had to don my full bad weather setup with my rain gear serving as a wind block layer and my hand warmers stuffed inside my gloves. It was a bit scary since we were much closer to my safety limit than I was really comfortable with. I tend to like being over prepared so no water, being sick, and not being able to get out of that weather was a tad worrisome.
We eventually made it off the ridge line which helped with the wind and things started to warm up as the day went on. I also was very relieved to find a spring in one of the valleys where we could refill our water containers so by noon things were looking much better. I was still in a lousy mood though by the time we hit the side trail to High Rocks. I’ve been pushing myself to take these side trails to different views since I want to enjoy the AT and not just put on the miles. So with that mindset, leaving Owl behind I went up by myself to check it out.
Right as I was getting to the top I slipped and banged my shin real bad. Cursing, I laid down on the bare rocks that gave High Rocks its name. They were snow free and had been absorbing heat all day so they were toasty warm. I just laid on them for several minutes soaking up the heat radiating from them. Finally looking up I was greeted with a great view. It was so nice I even took my shirt off to dry out. This was the first time ever I was glad I banged my shin as it forced me to enjoy where I was at vs hurrying back down to the main trail. It reminds me of the acorn story from my Tallahassee Larping days, “And then an acorn hit me on the head…”
With my outlook changed the rest of the day was much more enjoyable. While there was still a lot of slipping and sliding we were also starting to hit a part of the mountains that were mostly snow free. We arrived at No Business Shelter around five thirty and were faced with a difficult decision, stay there or continue the next six miles on into town. With bad weather forecasted to start soon and a general unwillingness to go down a muddy mountain in the dark we decided to stay put.
I’m pretty sure No Business shelter gets it’s name from the fact that you have no business staying there. The nearest water is half a mile away, there is no privy or “bathroom area” for that matter. There are no bear cables. Judging from the wet spots in it, the roof leaks. The biggest worry though was that there was a huge tree in front of it with a crack going up the middle that caused it to sway like a seesaw whenever the wind blew. I was terrified the entire night that it was going to break and come crashing into the shelter.
It was a memorable evening though as more people arrived to stay at the shelter. It was designed to sleep five hikers, and we proved the old saying “There’s always room for one more”, by squeezing eight people into it. We were packed like sardines but we made it work!
This was much more extreme in real life