Spring Mountain Shelter to Jerry Cabin Shelter – 15.9 miles
Woke up a bit later than I wanted to (6:40am) and within 10 minutes, everyone else in the shelter was up and moving. That’s usually how it goes in shelters. Not a very long day, but a tendon in my leg started hurting on the last few miles. Really hope it’s better in the morning. If I had service, I would try to call Laura, but no one has service at this shelter. Played my trombone sitting on the side of a cliff. It was sunny with a high of 70° so perfect p-bone temperatures. Two Clicks was feeling sick, so he got off at a road to spend the day at a hostel. I didn’t have his filter to use, but Peanut ended up letting me use her dirty platypus bag, so I still have clean water. Some cold days coming up. Hopefully not too many.
When you sleep in a shelter, as soon as one person wakes up, it usually means everyone else will wake up. Me being a morning person meant that I would accidentally wake up a lot of other hikers each morning. It didn’t help that my headlamp did not have a red light setting on it so if I absolutely had to use a light, it would light up half the shelter. I know better by now and have a proper headlamp for my next thru hike. Once I got moving this morning, everyone else in the shelter slowly followed suit.
I used an AT app on my phone that would say what the weather each day at every shelter on the AT would be. It was a high of 70 today, but I knew from the app that some cold days were on the way. I enjoyed the warmth while I had it. 12 miles into this day, I came across a sign pointing towards Whiterock Cliff. I had done a good bit of climbing that day so far and my leg was feeling pretty stiff so I walked out to the cliff to a gorgeous view for a snack and a pBone break. Before I got my pBone out, another hiker sat down at a separate junction of the cliffs. I liked to play music when I was by myself at views like this, but I didn’t let this one stop me. When I walked back onto the trail, he stopped me and said that that was the last thing he expected to ever hear out in the woods. He said he really enjoyed it and that he didn’t want to make any sound that might stop the music. He is another hiker I wish I could remember the name of because his response was one of the most genuine I had gotten at that point on the trail. My intentions for thru hiking with a pBone were never to get attention/fame from it. I just wanted to bring my music with me and hoped I didn’t bother anyone with it. My favorite moments playing the trombone are when I was alone playing towards a beautiful view.
The next section of trail after Whiterock Cliff looked flat on my map, but it was a very rocky strenuous section with small ups and downs. It was perfect for me though because I’ve always loved climbing rocks since I was a kid. It was also very exposed so in bad weather, there is a bypass trail to take. Thankfully the weather was great so no bypass for me. At the shelter that night I heard from other hikers that this time of year is about when rattle snakes start coming out and that rocky section was a very popular spot to see them. At this point, the only snakes I had seen were small black snakes that would slither away as soon as they heard me coming or when I almost stepped on them because they were sleeping in the middle of the trail.
The last 3 miles of the day were the slowest I hiked the entire trail. A pain had slowly developed in my right leg below my knee. It felt like there was one focal point with a less intense pain going down from it in a line. During those last three miles, the pain was excruciating. I put as much weight on my poles as I could. I probably would not have noticed passing the 300 mile point if someone hadn’t spelled it out in sticks on the ground. I took a quick picture there and kept hobbling on.
Two Clicks unfortunately had to get off the trail earlier that day at one of the road crossings, but thankfully there were multiple people there willing to let me use their water filter. There was a group of hikers around my age hanging around the shelter so I spent the rest my time there stretching my leg and talking with them. I tired to contact my sister, Laura at the shelter too because of my leg. She was close to finishing her grad degree in physical therapy so she was the best person I knew to give me advice on what to do. Unfortunately I had zero service there so I would have to try again tomorrow.