I had been wanting to get out of the house for several days once I was done with my student teaching. I contacted Detail Man first knowing he had been desiring a longer trip too. Once we had a few options we contacted another member on the forums and set up a trip to the Linville Gorge via the Mountains to Sea Trail. Plans fell through due to a miriad of factors (some being communication on my part and some other issues) so Detail Man and I decided to hike southbound on the Appalachian Trail from Troutdale back to Damascus since we were going to be there on Saturday for Trail Days.
We started at LD Cakes home outside of Johnson City and had a hotdog roast with my ever popular chili. Lots of fun to be had but ultimately it ended with us going to sleep. The next morning we headed to Pardner's Restaurant for breakfast and then off to Trail Days.
Trail Days was an absolute blast. That is until the accident.
I will say this about Trail Days: if you like sleep, staying at trail days after hours is not for you.
TinMan from AntiGravity Gear was kind enough to ride out to Troutdale with Detail Man and me, drop us off, and drive my car back to be parked across the street from Mount Rogers Outfitters. We began our adventure on the AT at 7:45. We stopped about a mile down the trail, had breakfast and moved along. Detail Man is not just a DIYer extraordinaire, but a real naturalist. We could hardly walk 10 feet before he'd point out a plant and list it's scientific name, medicinal uses, and what it's entire history since the dawn of time was, either that or start conversing with song birds in their native tongue. I knew he knew what was going on around us, either that or he is otherworldly.
We met some very nice thru hikers on the Trail (Take Five, Scorpion, and Talent). There were others, but we didn't get their names.
It didn't start to rain on us until we reached the Scales. By that time, we needed to move on so we wouldn't be out on the balds in the middle of the quickly approaching thunderstorm.
The rain had let up and was only off and on drizzle and mizzle/fog until we hit Fat Man's Squeeze, which up until that time felt like we were walking along the moors. The biblical deluge would have had a run for its money with this downpour. I might have been better off in a kayak. I began to get cold since I was testing out my summer gear. The problem is that it's not summer yet...almost. It dropped into the low 50s and the wind picked up. As soon as we hit the Thomas Knob shelter we had to find a campsite. We ended up hanging from Christmas trees right on the edge of the bald. It was all we could find backtracking a little ways from the shelter (all of the good trees were taken by tenters sleeping under them) [bad words]. What a great 23 mile day. We set up camp, cooked dinner, and headed right to bed. I awoke at 11:45pm with the wind howling and seeping right under my tarp, which was broadside to the wind. I had to get up (I was still wet) and pitch my tarp lower. Detail Man heard me moving around and asked if I was okay. Nope. I was freezing. I had seriously started to shake, and I wasn't even in Harlem. He hooked me up with a Hot hands and we made it back to bed...until 3:30am when some random dog came by and started to growl and then bark like mad. This dog did not seem nice at all. It was not a thru hiker's dog. I think it was a hell hound. All I could imagine was opening my eyes to see it staring back at me into my soul with eyes afire (make you think of any good books?). I commanded it to bow before be or flee in my best spiritually commanding voice I could muster. It fled. I was in no mood to be awoken by a hound of hell. Detail Man said something to the effect of, "Well, I think you showed him." What a guy.
The morning came and when there was no rain, we ate breakfast and hurried up to pack up. We saw a beautiful rainbow and I thought that was a good omen. You know the kind I'm talking about, that God is looking down and smiling on me kind of rainbow. Nope. It was one of those, I'm not gonna kill you with the flood waters kind of rainbow (which I suppose is equally nice).
Detail Man talked me into bringing along an extra pair of short so I can sleep in something warm/dry next trip. I wish I had them on this trip. Normally I only bring an extra shirt and some really thin socks. I have also decided that a DIY rain kilt/ground cloth is in my future.
Monday's hiking was more of the same: great hiking, cool places to experience, and enough rain to make me want a snuggie, a fire place, a good book, and some Poof-a-Nog. That day dream was not what I had in store. Nope. Let's talk chaffing. Okay, let's not, but I'll just say that this trip was cut short because I was the one injured. I'm much better today, but that was no fun...at all. I figured that rainbow was a good omen after all. When I stick out my thumb to hitch a ride, normally it take around an hour to get a ride. This time, it was a mere seconds until we had a ride. Our planned 27 miles was cut short to 11 miles. Stupid me for going stupid light and not keeping my inner thighs dry with rain pants, or since I sweat: a rain kilt. I could tell that Detail Man was disappointed, but he was a real trouper. I couldn't make it to the Gorge like I had planned. I needed to get clean, dry, and take a zero to heal. Detail Man went on to Rat Week. Now I'm glad I didn't go. The weather was less than optimal for my...condition. This was to be my longest trip away from my wife since we were married. This wasn't that, but it was the most nights away camping. It was a great trip all things considering. I don't think I stopped smiling even when I was cold or raw. I can't wait to go back out in the woods...once I get a hold of my gear situation.
Without further adieu, here is my video: