Monday, April 16, 2012

A rocky maze

It ended up being the coldest night yet, and we found ice under the tent when we packed up.  My right heel had developed a blister, and it was going to be a really fun day walking on that!  I have plenty of medical supplies to treat such things, and feel like I do a good job of staying on top of it, but it's still no fun while you are waiting for blisters to make that magic transformation into callouses!  I regret every pedicure I ever had.  I paid all of that good money to have callouses removed from my feet that now would prove so valuable to me!    Oh, the life of a princess!  Ha. 
We went down to the sheltet to cook breakfast (oatmeal and hot chocolate), and all of those sleeping in the shelter were still snoring.  They had not only built a big fire the night before, but had found a huge piece of sheet metal, and bent it around the far side of the fire, to reflect heat back into the shelter.  Brilliant.  They had managed to get pretty toasty. 
We headed out hiking with our pants on today (instead of shorts).  The wind had died down, and the sun was out, but it was still chilly.  Before too long, we reached the Blackstack Cliff, which provided gorgeous views to the east.  To the west, the view was clear as well, and we noticed there were no mountains in that direction.  Nokey and Snagglefoot had called us over to the cliffs.  It was a side trail, and we weren't sure we were going to investigate it at all, until they called us over, so we would not miss the view.
Not long after that, we all reached Jerry Cabin Shelter, which was mile mark 300.3 on the trail, and there were congratulations all around, because we had all reached the 300 mile mark!  Yay!  Not long after this, the trail got REALLY weird, looking a lot like the set of an Indiana Jones movie - lots of huge blocks of rock right on the top of the mountains, and we were just weaving in and out of the rocks, as if in a maze.  It was very slow, and tedious.  Although the elevation profile for the day had appeared easy, this was making for slow going. 
After that section of trail, we actually hit an old dirt road that wound through the woods for a few miles, and then went steeply downhill for a very long time - too long, in fact - by the end, our feet were pounded flat!  We finally reached Flint Mountain Shelter, and looked for Ray (Stingray).  He usually would find the best tent spots, so it was worth seeking him out before we found a place for ours.  Sure enough, he was down near the water source, which was this beautiful spring that was spilling over the huge roots of a tree.  We could sleep with the background sound of falling water.  Perfect!  The wind had died down, and it had warmed up for this night. 
(Camped at Flint Mountain Shelter, mile 306.2)


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