Day 73 - BRP 95.3 to Bryant Ridge Shelter
Had an eventful night (thunderstorms) and started hiking around 8am this morning.
Crossed the BRP a couple times today. Had long talks with Tenacious Bling about her hike struggles - lack of fashion, her expectations, and dealing with boredom. Not sure how much "stuck, but it will something she has to work through.
Took a long breakfast break at Bobblets Gap Shelter and met a college Herpetology class at Bearwallow Gap. Our son does herpetology everyday. I had a long chat with a young man teaching at a private school in the fall and it got my Educational philosophy and practice juices flowing and I spent the next hour or so discussing high school curriculum with the family and then about the coming school year and eventually homeschool graduation in our home. This train of thought occupied me for a couple hours.
Did a 500 ft elevation climb up Cove Mountain, was rewarded with some open views at the top. Hiked 750 ft elevation down to Cove Mountain Shelter, passed that, hiked the ridge, and then down another 1,000 ft elevation to Jennings Creek.
Spent an hour or so swimming, washing and eating. Exactly the way a summer backpacking day should be.
Hiked 1,000 ft elevation up to Fork Mountain and down another 750 ft.
Tonight we're camping at Bryant Shelter. Celine and Laurent are sleeping in the shelter and @toesalad, Tenacious Bling and I are camping by the stream, along the AT. The shelter is beautiful, probably the nicest on the whole trail, but I prefer the privacy of tenting.
Thunderstorms have been passing through this evening with intermittent rain. The fireflies are out on the hillside and it's magical beyond belief. And when I look to the shelter the path is also a twinkle of lights. It's amazing and reminds me of the fairy books I read to the kids when they were little.
I miss the kids tonight and with the storm I wonder how they're doing, but at 13 and 15 they're fine in the shelter (with strangers - only on the trail).
We had quite the experience last night. Between 12:00 and 1:30 am a thunderstorm passed over the ridge where we were camping. We could see and hear it coming as it moved closer. Our campsite was in tree cover but we were near the highest point on the ridge and we didn't feel safe. (We may have been safe but it's hard to tell these things, especially since we don't have a lot of experience camping in thunderstorms.)
So we erred on the side of caution and got out of the tents and into our rain jackets and hiked down the hill, through the underbrush, till we felt sufficiently lower than the highest point and somewhat protected, and huddled together under our three umbrellas. Tenacious Bling just got her own umbrella in Daleville a couple days ago.
We didn't get too cold in as we sat under our umbrellas, it was a warm night. I wasn't frightened, though I felt a lot of adrenaline and was kind of shaky from that. Tenacious Bling was frightened by the experience though.
When we felt safe we returned uphill to our camp and walked the fews yards to the Blue Ridge Parkway, which had a clear view of the valley, where we could watch the storm move across the mountain ranges. It was spectacular.
Because of the interruption to our sleep we slept in a bit this morning.
Day 72 - Daleville to BRP 95.3 (near Harvey's Knob Overlook)
Another sunny day.
Left the Howard Johnson Express at 8am this morning. Stopped for a second breakfast at Fullhardt Knob Shelter. There is a cistern at this shelter that is fed from the roof run off. No wonder the guide book says to treat your water. I was reminded of the cistern way back in North Carolina before hiking down into the NOC. That water was the most beautiful cistern I've ever seen. This roof-run was a decidedly different water experience.
It was uninspiring terrain early today and the conditions were hot and humid, though when summer comes in earnest this won't feel hot.
As we approached the Blue Ridge Parkway the terrain improved, more rocky outcroppings, and the temperature increased. It was easily 90 degrees in the parking lot. Thankfully we didn't spend much time there.
All the Lindt chocolate balls are melting in our food bag.
We ended the day at 4:30 with a dry camp at approximately mile 95.3 off the Blue Ridge Parkway, near Harvey's Knob Overlook. We set up our tents on an old overgrown road.
Today's hike felt completely manageable, in terms of miles and I was in a good mode the whole time. Amazing what two days of rest will do. Today I feel rejuvenated and at peace with hiking for the next few months. A feeling I didn't have last week as we were grinding the miles into Daleville.
Life on the trail, and at home, in never perfect and someone in our family of five is always "off", just today it wasn't me!
I've been feeling a little worried about our lack of attention to our video project, "shouldn't we be filming more stuff?". But @toesalad is emotionally drained from the last couple weeks and doesn't have the creative energy or inspiration for it. And the editors are still producing from the footage we've given them.
I'm really hoping I'm through the worst of my angst, for now, so @toesalad can focus again on the video series.
I felt really good today, best I've felt on the trail for weeks. The day didn't drag and I didn't want want to end my life for the agony of hiking.