Miles Hiked: 15.2
Miles Left: 1204.5
Ending Location: Dicks Dome Shelter, Mile 980.8
Mike offered a 9:00 shuttle to the local grocery store so I jumped at the opportunity to resupply. At the same time I skipped over to McDonalds for breakfast so when we got picked back up an hour later I was ready to hit the trail. I was very proud of the fact that I was able to get in and out of town and laundry done without losing too much time. I hadn’t had a zero day since Waynsboro and was feeling great.
The trail today was a muddy mess. The last couple of days of rain had not been kind to it and after a while I stopped even trying to avoid the mud puddles as my shoes and socks were already soaked. Stopping in at the Jim & Molly Denton Shelter I ran into another hiker who was zeroing there. Considering the shelter had a shower, (solar heated so no hot water today), a patio, tons of space, and was clean, I can see why. It was certainly a better place to stay than the Grand Prix motel back in Gatlinburg that’s for sure!
I don’t know the answer to the eternal question of if a tree falls in the woods and no one is around does it make a noise, but one came tumbling down as I was hiking today and boy did it create a racket. I figure the muddy ground was loose enough that the roots could no longer hold it up. A similar story was told to me by another hiker who had been setting up his hammock after a big rainstorm. He choose what he thought were two fairly substantial trees but when he hopped into his hammock one of the trees gave way and nearly crushed him. Luckily it got caught up on the other tree so he managed to escape with a cut up hand and a bunch of scrapes and bruises, but mud is dangerous!
I ended the day at Dick’s Dome shelter which had to be the smallest shelter I’ve seen on the AT so far. Mostly it was just the design that was weird since while it had lots of headroom, the angles we such that you would have trouble fitting more then four hikers in it. Luckily there was tons of tenting spots so that was what everyone was doing. Also thanks to the grass I didn’t have to set my tent up in the mud which was a bonus. After cooking dinner it was fairly dark, (I didn’t get on the trail until eleven), so I called it a night and turned in.