"The sun was warm, but the wind was chill. You know how it is with an April day, when the sun is out & the wind is still; you're one month on in the middle of May. But if you so much as dare to speak, a cloud comes over the sunlit arch, and a wind blows off the frozen peak & you're two months back in the middle of March." Robert Frost's words rang in our ears all day. We hiked 15 miles yesterday wearing our thinnest shorts, socks, & tees in 80 degree hot sunlight. We were stopping at every creek, stream, puddle, etc. to splash a little water on our arms & faces. On the uphills we were sure we were withering! Our plan was to hike 18 miles, but when we reached Hogback Mt. Shelter two things stopped us: first, the nasty t-storm that was brewing, & second, the sign propped against the tree that read, "Trail magic. Breakfast, Sam's Gap 2.4 miles north. Muffins, eggs, hash browns & sausage. If this sign is here, I will be there." I wish we could somehow impart how incredibly persuasive food is out here. Food consumes at least 70% of our daily thoughts (& that's a conservative estimate). So we bedded down in the shelter with our new friends: Over the top, Battlecat, Malarky, & Greenlight. The thunderstorm lived up to its expectation, roaring all night long. Fifty mph winds whipped rain against the back wall of the shelter - there was no where to hide. Our snug bags kept us warm though & we slept pretty well. The real surprise came this morning. We awoke to a quiet forest & assumed that the rain had moved out, & that we'd have another nice day. What we saw though, was a steady snow falling through the trees, adding to the inch or so that was already on the ground!!! IT WAS 80 DEGREES YESTERDAY! We went to bed slightly sweaty, too hot to even zip our sleeping bags, and awoke to an icy wind blowing snow into the 25 degree shelter. It's April baby! I'm glad we toted the extra weight of a few pieces of winter gear. We broke camp with chattering teeth (& a bad attitude on my part *my =Mc) & walked the 2.4 miles to Sam's Gap with stiff legs, exchanging few words. But oh how trail magic will lift the spirits! We found "Quiet Paul" Thrailkill ( 2007 thru-hiker) cooking on a big camp stove on the tailgate of his truck. We sat in camp chairs under the I-26 overpass & chatted with Paul as he served us each 3 eggs, a whole shredded potato worth of hash browns, a Johnsonville Brat, & a homemade bran muffin. Oh, & fresh OJ! Words can't express our gratitude Paul.
We left Sam's Gap with high spirits, ready to attack the 15 miles ahead of us. The terrain turned out to be pretty difficult with most of the day seeming to lead uphill. The slick snow & mud from the downpour last night added an interesting variable to the equation. Big Bald was our highest summit for the day. We got a beautiful 360 degree view of the snowy mountains surrounding us, but the wind up top with no barrier from the trees made the peak almost unbearable. The rest of the day passed as most do, with little ado. It's worth mentioning that we passed a southbounder / flip-flopper who is within 3 days of finishing! (He hiked from Springer to Hot Springs, NC & is almost done picking his way from Maine back to Hot Springs!) It's also worth mentioning that today is Mimi's birthday!! (We think she's 36) (:
We're back in Tentville tonight, all by ourselves in the woods. What a treat! Tomorrow brings us to Erwin, TN...we hear they have a wicked pizza buffet...oops, there goes our food obsession again. When we get home we're going to need some serious support in our battle against weighing 800 pounds!