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[at-l] Tales from the Trail

Well we finally made it to Springer only a few days after our originally planned starting date.  Gutsy and her friend Henry pick us up at the Kincora Hostel and transported us south from there.  I had thoughts of doing the Approach Trail, but decided the hour was late and we'd be best off starting at usfr 42. One of these days I'll do that trail!

Our first decision was where to camp for the night.  I figured we could drop our packs near the road and walk up to Springer, hike back down and make it do Stover Creek Shelter by dark, but instead we carried our packs up and tented near the Springer shelter, leaving Saturday for our first full hiking day.  There were four others staying in the shelter that night, with three of them thru-hiking.  The two others on the mountain were caretakers hoping to spread the LNT ethic to this years class of thru-hikers.

Shortly after pitching our tents, Cheryl let me know she heard on the radio that severe storms dropping an inch of rain an hour would be approaching within in the next 24 hours.  Three hours later at 11 pm with a flash and a boom the skies opened up.  I left the awning up on my Nomad so I could watch the display, not knowing that rain was entering my tent horizontally.  My first night using a down sleeping bag and it got wet, probably not he last!

The rains lasted most of the night and the following day, but left enough time in the morning to pack up without getting everything drenched.  The first days walk to Hawk Mountain Shelter was fine even in the rain as the tempertures were mild.  What seemed to take all day in '97 only took me a few hours and I was at the just after noon, day done.  Some time in the afternoon it cleared with the sun coming out and I was able to dry both my tent and sleeping bag, which was a good thing as the mercury dropped to the upper teens later that evening.  There were 14 squeezed into the shelter with a few others tenting in the area, most of them thru-hiking but some on spring break.

It was pretty funny watching some use their stoves for what looked like the first time and asking questions like, how do you wash your pot and do you sleep with your socks on?

The following day the hike to Gooch Gap was as strenuous as I remembered. The crowd thinned out with some stopping before and others hiking a few miles further. 

 On the way, dropping into Cooper Gap I saw a face that looked familiar.  It was POG, a welcome sight, not to mention the soda, apples, brownies and snicker bars she offered, that I happily took!

For the time being we'll be averaging 8 miles a day in order for Cheryl to get her trail legs and so far she's been doing well at that mileage.

Yesterday we arrived at Neel Gap and called for a shuttle to Goose Creek Cabins where we spent last night and from where I'm writing this morning. It was nice to get a shower, our clothes cleaned, and a warm meal that isn't Liptons. We got our own little cabin with kitchenette, bath and bedroom, a place one could get spoiled in, rustic, but homey.

Shortly we'll heading out so I'll end here.  I'll try to catch up on some of the other happenings during the week.

One last thought,I know I must be on the AT, it's calling for rain for the next few days.  You gotta love it!

Later, Sly

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