Wednesday Oct 13th 2021, 0620-1900
Crawfish Trail Junction to Trimpi Shelter, SOBO AT mm 1668.8
5800 gain, 5515 loss
The forests rain acorns and leaves in the fall, making a lot of noises at night. It can sometimes sound suspiciously like an animal approaching. The brain fixates on such things, trying to find patterns in what are random events. But every so often, there are patterns. Sometime after I’d just gone to sleep, hikers arrived. I figured they were Wizard, Mr Bojangles and All There but they were so quiet, I couldn’t quite make them out. I went back to sleep quickly and thus the night went, waking up a lot but in general sleeping well.
I was off early with the anticipation of second breakfast heavy on my mind. The Barn restaurant sat at the crossing of interstate 81. It was reported to be a hiker favorite, with big portions for cheap. I was so excited, even while walking through the forest in the dark. I was alone, having left Mud to finish packing because I was too cold to wait. I gained a ridge, entering a thick fog. I could barely see 3 feet. I pondered how such conditions should really scare me. The forest couldn’t be any creepier and yet it felt as comforting to me as it does in the day time. I didn’t even startle when I came upon a couple of deer. I guess I just really feel at peace with things out here. Sure there are tons of bugs I don’t fancy crawling all over me and plants like poison ivy and nettles that I try to avoid, but everything else seems pretty benign. Even Bigfoot.
Speaking of which, I though I saw one just as I entered a field. It was walking the trail ahead and away from me, just like the grainy video from the 70s. I hurried to catch up. At the next road crossing, it got into a Toyota Tundra and drove away. Maybe next time I’ll get a better look. Worse than missing Bigfoot, the restaurant was closed. Apparently it’s only open on the weekends. It was a huge disappointment. Instead we went shopping at the 2 gas stations. There I had the worst stale chicken sandwich ever. The package promised more cluck for my buck but it was more like yuck! I still wolfed it down in no time.
I grabbed a very disappointing and expensive resupply from the stores but it was faster than trying to hitch a few miles to a Dollar General. Getting to and from a place along an interstate seemed like a bad idea. At least these disappointing outcomes saved us a lot of time. We adjusted our planned mileage as such, aiming for a far shelter, only to become sidetracked by a pavilion a few miles down trail. Brian was there with beers, drying his gear and waiting on the other 3 guys to bring him a burrito from the Mexican restaurant. It didn’t open open until 11 am, so he’d bribed his buddies with libations. We hadn’t felt like waiting either and didn’t have beers to offer in exchange, so we marched on.
The trail climbed Glade Mountain, an unremarkable 4,000 footer. Such heights are commonplace here but in New England, people would be clambering to climb them as some challenge or such. For us, it just meant a lot of uphill followed by more ridge walking. This stretch also brought about heaps of Pennsylvania type rocks, which were made trickier by all the leaves covering them. But they barely slowed us down, being such hardened SOBOs. We made it to the Partnership shelter next, which is a huge 2 story deal near a forest service visitors center. Pizza can be delivered to the shelter and we also found a mostly depleted case of beer. As such, it was tempting to stay but we needed more miles. I chugged 2 beers, along with a lot of water, before carrying on. Like a rock star and performance athletic all in one.
We left the shelter at 4 pm, with 10 miles to go. We rocked that distance in just 3 hours, thanks to some cruiser trail. It was nice seeing the sunset from a field in the last mile. We found our shelter just before dark, with enough light to search for the spring. There was a section hiker already in bed in the shelter. He’d spent his day hiking from the prior shelter…the one with beers that we’d just rocketed from like it was an afterthought. I felt a little bad making noise, doing all our chores of cooking, eating and setting up past dark but it’s just what we’ve got to do in order to get the miles done. We’re on such different schedules than so many of the other hikers out here. MEGA!