Wayah Bald Shelter to A Rufus Morgan Shelter – 15.5 miles
A cold but sunny morning. Hiked with Digs for a part of the day when I could keep up with him. By 12, I could tell the snow was melting and turning into a muddy mush that caused me to fall once and slip a lot. At the shelter, I was the only one except for Super English and Beans who decided to both set up their hammocks. A few hours later, Rachael and Braden showed up, so I didn’t get the shelter all to myself. I was still able to get a p-bone practice session in before they got here. Meeting up with Dad at the NOC tomorrow.
This morning was just as cold as the night before but with the sun rising, it ended up being a beautiful day of hiking. This day had the most snow that I hiked in on the entire AT. The beginning of the day a few other hikers started before me and broke the trail so in the deeper snow, I just had to step in their footprints. By the time I got to Cold Spring Shelter about 5 miles in, it was still very cold and I found Super English sitting at the shelter. He offered to make me some tea and I happily accepted. We were joined by a few others – bonding over our shared cold and miserable night – before I started hiking again. Not too long after that, Digs had caught up to me and we hiked together for a little while.
Up at the top of the mountain, the views were beautiful. There were no clouds in the sky and the ice and snow on the trees were reflecting the sunlight. I remember one view in particular that I made sure to stop at and get a picture where all you could see was a white covered landscape. All the trees were covered in ice and it made a view that I did not see very often growing up in South Carolina.
The descent down towards the NOC had me sliding all over the place. It was midday and the sun had warmed things up significantly. I don’t know how Digs was able to hike so fast without falling. I had 1 hard fall on my side in the mud before slowing down my pace to avoid any more bad falls. After 5 miles of that downhill, I made it to the A. Rufus Morgan Shelter. Beans and Super English were also there, but they were both planning on setting up their hammocks so I had the shelter to myself. The shelter was a little ways off the trail so I got some alone time with my pBone there before Racheal and Braden showed up to also stay at the shelter.
At some point that afternoon, I realized that I did not have my Jet Boil. I thought that I must have left it at the last shelter I stayed in or someone might have accidentally put it in with their stuff. I had no idea so I thought I was going to have to buy a new cooking system once I got to the NOC the next day. Later that afternoon, Lose/Fast/Square – who also stayed at the shelter the night before – came hiking south from the NOC and said he was looking for me. He found my Jet Boil in his pack and said it was all the way down at the bottom. It wasn’t until he was in his hostel room unpacking his things that he realized he had it. Thankfully he was nice enough to hike a mile backwards to the shelter I was staying at to return it to me. I still got to eat my ramen that night!