Tuesday Nov 2nd 2021, 0715-1830
Plumorchard Gap Shelter to Low Gap Shelter, SOBO AT mm 2150.3
8060 gain, 8020 loss
I left the shelter in the dark, having a hard time finding the scant side trail. I must have wondered around in the dark for nearly 10 minutes before I finally found the correct path. I watched a nice sunrise from atop the ridge. The trees were sparse enough to allow a few views, the colors framed and enriched by the remaining colorful leaves. Some clouds rolled in and the sun was mostly obscured the rest of the day, making for some cooler temperatures. It was good for hiking but not for stopping. Something about the cold and the relentless ups and downs in the morning really sealed the deal for me. I’d been contemplating my idea of retracing my steps back to Franklin. At this point, I was very much feeling like I was ready to be done once I got to Springer. I paused to check flights out of Atlanta, seeing that there was one for only $30… I booked it immediately. Having committed to an end, I felt a lot better. I started thinking about all my favorite foods that I was going to eat and also all the TV I’d watch curled up on the couch. I also thought of the warm weather of south Florida and it brought me great joy. I was suddenly just so over the cold and struggles of hiking the AT. I guess 100 days was my breaking point.
Just before lunch, I caught up to Deep Fried, Spirit, Katapault and another whose name has escaped me. They were all flip-floppers, one of which Mud Lantern knew well. We all had lunch together at a cliff view. Nobody lingered long, as it was quite chilly. Spirit, Mud’s friend, walked with us much of the rest of the day and I enjoyed talking with her. She was very positive and genuine and I wished we’d had a night to hang out at a shelter together. She stopped at the Blue mountain shelter, while Mud and I pushed on to the next. I’d previously slept at the Blue Mountain shelter and wanted to experience a different setting. Plus, I knew the Blue Mountain shelter was high and exposed and the way the cold wind was blowing, it wouldn’t be enjoyable. Pushing another 6 miles this day would give us just 27 and 24 mile days left to complete the trail…2 short days for us by our crazy standards, or at least a relief from doing 30s.
At our destination for the night, we met Pinstripe, who was also finishing his Triple Crown…at age 73. He’d been to the same trail wedding that I’d attended on the CDT but I didn’t remember him. He didn’t remember me much either because as he described it, he’d been really inebriated at the time. We found only one guy staying in the shelter, White Crane. He was from Florida and a very funny guy. He’d stretched a tarp halfway across the shelter opening, partially blocking the cold wind, which we were very grateful for. We both enjoyed his company for the night, as well as some very brazen and acrobatic mice. They were climbing up and down the walls like Spiderman. They sneaked inside Mud’s pot without him even realizing it. He only knew they’d been there because they left him a present…mouse turds. Later, I learning in a podcast that mice will poop in places so as to leave messages to other mice about food availability. The mice had spoken: Mud’s pot was a great place to find food. When you don’t have TV to watch at night, you watch the mice scamper around instead. What a life.