It was a hot day. It was a hot night. I slept well with the boys and an old man named Golden and the SOBO Grandpa cowboy camping out past the shelter. And in the morning, we got up and joked around and ate, then trickled out of the shelter and down the trail.
The boys were aiming for a 26 mile day, but I wasn’t so sure.
I started off climbing down a ladder (at least it wasn’t a rock scramble!!).
And as the day warmed up, so did I. I was hot and sweaty and happy.
I took the side trail to the lookout, a private cabin that’s open for hikers to stay in. I climbed up on the roof to take a look around.
I sat and chatted with Tarzan and ate some lunch. We talked weather and, hearing that there might be rain tonight, I thought maybe I didn’t want to do 26 miles to tent in a lady’s yard. Maybe I’d go for a shelter instead.
I explained my feelings to this sympathetic bird.
I fell more in love with Vermont.
And then there was trail magic! Red hot was NOBO last year, and he and his family had a hiker feed. Tarzan and Sunny were there, and I enjoyed a red snapper and a regular hot dog. And cookies. And a coke. And some water. And then hiked out.
The day didn’t get easier though. The uphills were sucking it out of me. I stopped at a creek for a quick cool down. The blue bandana on my wrist is for…well, really anything. Wiping my nose in the cold, wiping sweat in the hot, and taking off to use as a wash rag in a creek. So I did that whenever I could to try and cool down, but I was still just zapped.
I was zapped, but the trail was beautiful.
I passed a section hiker doing a survey and handing out snickers. I wolfed that puppy down.
And then down I went, to Cloudland road. There were two shelter possibilities today: Cloudland shelter, which is no longer an AT shelter and is on private land but is open to AT hikers, or thistle hill. Thistle hill was a mile further and up another hill, and so when I ran into a section hiker named Blazer at Cloudland road and told him my plan to go to Cloudland, and he said he might join me, well, that was good news. I wasn’t *really* relishing a night alone.
The other good news was that there was Magic Water (uh, jugs of water) at the road; Cloudland was dry, so we filled up and headed out.
After a bit of a trek, we made it to the empty shelter off trail. Clean, empty, and lonely.
I ate mashed potatoes, tortilla, goldfish, and sour patch kids. And now I’m ready for bed. Happy, full, and ready for Hanover tomorrow.
Trip total: 110.5
MVP: mashed potatoes. No, hot dog.