We saw on the weather report that we would probably have rain this week, and just hoped we could make camp and set up the tent before rain set in.
At the first shelter we got to, we ran into some hikers we had not met before, Biscuits, Scout, and Shaky. Shaky was actually headed southbound. He had started in Maine last July, taken the winter off, and then gotten back on, and was planning on completing it in Georgia about mid May.
Biscuits, from Texas (and an Aggie) got his name at an all you can eat buffet in Hiawassee when he was going at the biscuits with one in each hand. I didn't get to inquire about Scout's name, but he was from Vermont, and had hiked the Long Trail up there, and always wanted to hike the AT.
After lunch, I let Keith get ahead of me a little bit, know where we were going to meet to camp. We do this sometimes, because our paces don't always match, and we always know where we are going to meet up. Not only that, but on most days, there are usually other hikers passing me, and then catching him, so he gets updates on my location from them. He took the tent poles just in case the rain moved in. The lower part of the trail wound around one beautiful stream after another, with really great foot bridges over them. We love following the mountain streams - probably even more than the views along the ridges.
After we started climbing, we started gaining enough elevation to get views, but rain was moving in. It never rained enough to put on rain gear, but sprinkled steadily, cooling it off nicely, especially since we started climbing quite a bit, which can heat things up pretty quickly!
About a mile before camp, I came upon this young couple who did not look like thru-hikers at all. They were in jeans and quilted jackets, and just did not have the equipment and high tech, quick-dry clothing that the other hikers have. When they saw me, they said, "Are you that woman that's from Texas that's hiking with your husband from New York?". I told them I was.
"We've been worried sick about you!". This caught me by surprise. Why were they worried?
"Your husband left you. We know there's a storm coming, and we were worried sick that you were alone in the woods."
I assured them that we'd been hiking for over a month, that I was aware of the weather report, and that we don't always hike right together, but that I'd be reaching him soon at camp.
The guy said, "Well, ma'am, your husband has left you." Then he paused, and added, "But I'm sure he loves you very much still. "
I didn't know quite how to reply to this, because I could tell he thought he was giving me really bad news. I tried not to laugh at his statement, let them know I had whatever equipment I needed should the weather turn bad, and hurried on down the trail. (I found out later, their trail names were Ricky and Lucy).
Not too much later, I came upon Keith, and he had already found a nice level (sweet!) spot, we set up the tent, and as soon as we did, the rain started. Perfect timing! The only bad thing about this site was a nearby gravel road, but figured since it was storming, and it being a weekday, maybe no locals would be partying in the woods.
After we had already turned in for the night, and were listening to the rain on the tent (nice) a car pulled up on the gravel road close by and began honking. I was floored that someone expected us to leave the tent and head out into the rain to see what they wanted. When they continued to honk, Keith finally unzipped the fly and yelled at them to see what they wanted. It turned out that someone had driven off the side of the mountain, and she was missing. They wanted to know if we had seen a girl by herself in the woods. Keith told them we had not seen anyone, and neither had the other campers who were with us. I lay there for a while wondering if we were going to be visited by a distressed car wreck victim in the middle of the night. That would certainly leave a lasting memory. I guess they found her because they never came back, and she never appeared at our tent that night.
(By the way, the mushrooms pictured below reminded me of pancakes!)
- Steady and F100