Laurel Creek Shelter to Niday Shelter
Miles Hiked: 12.4
AT Milage: 687.2
Last night the rain never stopped. I was very slow getting ready and didn’t leave until after 8AM. Putting on wet clothes in the morning is one of the worst things. I figured out a great trick that works for me on rainy days. Now I just wear my rain pants with nothing underneath them since my underwear and shorts will just get soaked for no reason. I’d rather go commando and keep them dry. If my rain pants weren’t as nice, I would take a knife and cut off the bottoms so I could have rain capris. I just rolled them up today. I also cut a giant slit in the bottom of my rain cover with a knife hoping that the water will drain out of it better. There is almost no point to me having a rain cover if my pack gets soaked underneath it anyways and the water collects in the bottom. Flamingo and I agreed to hike to a shelter 12.4 miles away hoping our friends Cocoa and Flip would catch up to us today or at least not be much farther behind. The first thing I had to do on trail was cross two very dangerous creeks by hoping over wet rocks. If I fell in I could easily drown with my pack on. The creeks were flowing extremely fast due to the past 30+ hours of rain. They almost looked like white water rapids! It was fun. After crossing these I continued downhill on the trail that was basically a stream itself at this point. Once you get yourself soaking wet, the rain isn’t that bad as long as it’s not freezing cold.
Next I walked through some hay and cow pastures on a hillside. Some of the hay was up to my waist! I hope that the water keeps the ticks away. Either way I was covered in more clothing than I usually am. I saw Flamingo walking across the hill in the distance in his pink rain coat behind me. I was surprised he didn’t catch up yet. I started screaming just to see if he would hear me. The terrain was super rocky again today but not as bad as before. There were some great stone steps that were actually small enough for me to comfortably use for once. Normally all the steps feel like the jolly green giant made them because I have to lift my knees up above my hips and push off my trekking poles to use them. I heard people in the shelter taking about some slippery wet rocks we might encounter today, but I didn’t worry too much about it. I had my phone in my pack all day so I took zero pictures and did not look at the map at all. All I knew is that I was 12.4 miles away from the shelter I wanted a spot in.
Eventually I hit the slippery rocks that I heard fellow hikers worrying about. If you are familiar with outdoor climbing, I would describe the ledges I was walking over as the top of a slab cliff. There was lots of exposure and the rock was slanted straight down. It lasted for about a mile and I had to go very slow over it. There hasn’t been a time on the AT I have been worried about literally falling off a mountain until today. When I looked down the steep slab, the rock went pretty far down the mountain and into the fog. If I took a fall and slipped there would be nothing to stop me from sliding right off the cliff. I just took my time walking over this part trying to put my feet where I thought there would be the most friction. It was still raining the whole time I was walking over this. I was wondering how my other hiker friends would be able to navigate this and slightly worried for some of them. There were a few times where the rocky ledge took a brief break and turned into a sort of rocky trail again. During one of these breaks as I stepped up to another rocky ledge I took a fall. I screamed really loud as my right hip and chest hit the ground. I laid there for a moment thankful I wasn’t sliding off the mountain. I was all alone and no one had heard me. I got up and kept hiking but could feel a lot of pain in my side. I knew it would leave a bruise but since I was still able to move as well as I could I wasn’t worried. I eventually got to the shelter at 1:30. Flamingo came in about 10 minutes later. I had assumed he got off trail by hitch hiking and went into town because he never caught up to me. I was shocked about how I had made it to the shelter before him because he is the fastest hiker I know. He told me he was going really slow today due to the rain and all the obstacles. He ended up taking a bad fall on the slippery rock as well.
I was bummed I couldn’t get any pictures today. I passed some probable great views but couldn’t see anything because it was so foggy and rainy. I also passed the biggest oak tree on the southern half of the Appalachian trail that is supposedly 300 years old! It was so cool. One other thing I passed was the eastern continental divide. This is the point where water flows to the Gulf Coast or the Atlantic Ocean. I wonder if I could actually see it but since it was raining and everything was water I just kept walking. The sign also told me that my shelter was 2.7 miles away which just made me want to go faster.
At the shelter I got all dried off and climbed into my sleeping bag. I had a lot of time to rest my body and just hang out with people. I was thankful to have another warm and cozy spot on a never ending rainy day. I am confident in my abilities to handle the rain while hiking now, just as long as I can get a warm spot in a shelter. Hopefully the rain eases up tomorrow but I honestly think it will keep going for a few more days.