Pine Swamp Branch Shelter(654.4) to Undesignated Campsite(668.0) 13.6 miles
It was very very cold last night, probably high 30's, low 40's. As a result, I did not sleep well. I woke up around 4:00 and tossed and turned until 6:15. I finally made myself get up around 6:30, which is pretty late for me. I usually pack up before I eat breakfast, but today I made oatmeal and coffee to try and warm up first. After I ate, I packed up as quickly as I possibly cold with frozen fingers. Soon after leaving camp I had a decent climb so I was able to warm up. About one mile after the shelter a guy named, The Captain, allows hikers to camp on his property across the river. He has a zipline to get across and has a fridge on his back porch with cold sodas. Usually I would jump at the chance for a soda, but I was too cold to mess with it.
I quickly moved on to start my uphill climb. After I had finished going uphill I came to Stoney Creek. It had a well built bridge to go across it. I'm thankful for all of the trail volunteers that build bridges like this for hikers to safely cross streams, creeks, and rivers.
The next several miles of the hike were through a rocky section. I listened to music, which I haven't done in awhile, to help keep my sanity.
In the middle of the rocks I came to a shelter. I stopped in to take off some of my layers of clothing. Somebody had installed an electrical outlet. It looked so real that I couldn't help but laugh.
I didn't stay very long. I quickly changed clothes and signed the shelter register, then was back on the trail. It was at this point that my energy levels started to drop, my lack of sleep from the night before had caught up to me.
Airlock and I had planned to meet at the seven mile mark for lunch, but I met up with her on the trail a mile short of there. She was having a low energy day as well. We trudged along until we made it to the viewpoint for lunch. I was instantly reenergized. Every time I get a spectacular view I feel so lucky to be out
here on this journey.
Where did you eat lunch today?
We took a much longer lunch break than usual. We were also hiking much slower than usual. The next few miles followed a ridgeline that was pretty flat, but once again very rocky. It is hard to make good time across these rocky sections. It's just to easy to twist an ankle so you have to slow down.
After crossing through all the rocks the trail went downhill for a few miles. There were a lot of switchbacks so it wasn't too bad, but it was getting late in the afternoon. At the next shelter Airlock and I decided to make it a short day. We had a hellacious 4.5 mile climb in front of us and we didn't want to do it so late in the day. One mile from the shelter was a lovely camp spot next to a creek, so we decided to call that our home for the evening. I was a few minutes ahead of her at this point. As I neared the campsite I saw a red box on the side of the trail. Someone had left a box of cokes for hikers. Jackpot!!! I grabbed a couple and went back down the trail to boost Airlock's moral. We put them in the stream to chill them down and set up our camp. A little while later, Dr. Pickles, and his wife, Mockingbird, showed up and set up camp behind us. Not long after, Shimmy, joined our group as well. We had a nice dinner and spent the evening swapping stories and laughing.
Tonight promises to be another cold evening. I beefed up my insulation on my hammock with a sheet of tyvek, a trash compactor bag, and the liner from Airlock's pack. I think I'll stay comfortable tonight, but time will tell. Tomorrow will be a tough day with lots of up uphill climbs, but we should be well rested and our food bags are now lighter after a big dinner.
"If future generations are to remember us with gratitude...we must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it." -Lyndon B Johnson Upon signing the Wilderness Act, 1964