Sunday, August 7, 2011

Day One

4 Days and 3 Nights on the Appalachian Trail
No Great Adventures Just a Great Life
Another chance out on the trail with my good friend Bo Milner. It doesn’t get much better than this. Our wives drop us off at route 60 and the Appalachian trail in Amherst County Virginia, about 40 miles south of Waynesboro. I am starting the hike 25 pounds lighter than I was last year when we were hiking so I am feeling pretty good. This will be our most remote hike. We will not see a paved road; a moving car or a trash can for the next four days.
 Its 2 pm when we start out but we have less than five miles to go to reach tonight’s shelter. However our first 2.5 miles climbs 2000 feet to the summit of Bald Knob. That is the same as climbing 3000 stair steps. This is a steep climb and we take it slow and easy. About five hundred feet from the summit we are over taken by a thunderstorm. We pull our rain gear from our packs and hunker down before the heavy rain hits. We are already soaked with sweat but the purpose of the raingear is to keep us warm and to try to keep our boots dry. Within minutes the trail in front of us becomes a raging stream a foot wide. We are certain our wives are terribly worried about us as the lightning and thunder breaks right over us. We learn later that our wives are west of the storm, see no rain and are delighted to be photographing the rainbow created by our thunder storm.
After an hour the storm has past and we continue our journey up the mountain in a light rain. The summit of Bald Knob is no longer bald and offers no views. We arrive at Cow Camp Shelter (Named for the fact that as late as the 70’s cows were grazed on upper pastures here in the summer.) at about 6 pm.
A typical shelter camp includes a shelter, which is a three sided building with a bare floor that sleeps about a dozen people and then numerous tent sites scattered around the shelter. There is also usually a picnic table, a water source and a privy. (Outhouse) This camp had both a stream and a spring.
Cow Camp Shelter is the most populated camp we will stay at. There was a couple on their honey moon. They were married in March and immediately after their wedding started hiking south from Maine on the Appalachian Trail. He reported that his pack weighed 175 pounds. We estimated he weighed about 150. She said her pack weighed 80 pounds and we guessed she might have weighed 125. Those are crazy weights for packs. Our full packs weigh in at 25 to 30 pounds and many distance hikers get their packs down to less than 20 pounds.  These two had a rather well set up camp site and were taking a break from hiking. The only explanation for his overweight pack that he gave was that he had been a marine and in training he could spend all day carrying that weight in the hot sun so he did not see any reason he could not do it on the Appalachian Trail. The two other hikers in camp that night were both guys who were about thirty. One was a golf course designer between contracts and the other was a laid off plastic extruder. The golf course designer had done the first third of the Appalachian Trail, Maine to Pennsylvania, last year and was doing about a thousand miles this year, having started in where he left off last year.
The out come of the rain is that our boots are fairly damp and my cell phone won't work so we will be without any communication for the rest of the hike.

Dinner at Cow Camp Shelter

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