Friday, April 6, 2012

Day 3: March 30, 2012

Up at 5:30 into the bitter cold. The night temps really tested my limits. I should have brought my ski mask and gloves. I am also going to look into an under quilt for the hammock to keep my backside warm. Inside the hammock it was 32 degrees, and out in the morning breeze even colder. Rusty was up shortly before me and began stoking the fire. In the darkness and frigid temps getting a morning fire going consumed us. It was too dark to get water from the spring so we boiled some from our hydration bladders for morning oatmeal and coffee. We packed and started off on the trail at sunrise.

Rusty Nuts and I standing atop one of the vistas along the trail
We had planned for 22 miles today to make up some lost time the day before. I hit the trail running. It took only moments to flush away the stiffness in my legs and I proceeded up the ridge at a brisk 3 mph. I left Rusty in the dust. I came to a view of the valley and waiting some time for him to slumber along. He was ready to proceed forward without pause so things looked like they were off to a good start. I continued my blaze for the next 4 miles at which point I cross paths with another hiker who told my of an open way station just moments ahead. Today was the first day of the season they were open. I passed along this new found tale to my partner when he caught up. We proceeded into Skyland, a resort originally built in the late 1800's. Today stands a restaurant overlooking the valley, an inviting lobby area with comfortable couches and recliners, restrooms, and of course, a gift shop. We purchased some gator aides and snacks to pass some time before the restaurant was seating for lunch. We struck up a conversation with a couple hiking Northbound to Harpers Ferry. We exchanged intel on shelter distances, water sources and were informed of fore casted rain. No sooner than when I broke that news to Rusty the rain laid upon us. I'm pretty sure that broke his spirits. He had no rain gear nor suitable change of clothes for camp and the combination of cold and wet don't bode well for hikers. I'm still not sure what all he had in the pack of his. After splitting the food and cooking equipment (both of which are shared thus only fair to distribute the weight evenly) he weighted in at 47lbs to my 27lbs. I ended up taking all the food and cooking system to even the packs. So we were seated and dined on corn bisque, mac and cheese, hamburgers, and fries. It was as this point my partner along the trail gave up. He claimed that the long days, blistered feet, chaffed skin, and cold rain were too much to battle. He was prepared to have someone come pick him up from the very table we sat.

This left me to ponder my options: call it quits and hitch a ride with him, continue on solo, or give him time to fill up on much needed calories and convince him to go at least a bit fitter. After some Bayer, a nap on the couch, and a pep talk I convinced him to ouch on to the next shelter 4 miles away. When the rain subsided we set foot, grudgingly, but forward. Again I was off in a flash. I have no doubt I could have done the 22 miles and gotten back onto schedule. I conceded to short hikes with him and have us picked up Saturday night at another wayside just a short jaunt away.

We arrive at our final shelter of the trip to find it empty, with a nearby spring, and a fire pit. We collected fire wood, filled our waters from the spring and built a fire. Another hiker came for the night but will be tenting 20 yards away.
Dinner was Spanish rice with chicken and tortillas. We sat by the fire till ten and parted was for some sleep. I'll be in the hammock and he in the shelter.

Camp set up at Rock Springs Hut

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