27th April 2017
Mollies Ridge Shelter (177) to Double Spring Gap Shelter (194.4)
A strong wind blew through camp overnight. It hit my tent side on causing me to reposition my tent around 2am so it presented a smaller profile to the wind.
I woke to the sound of distant thunder around 6.30am. I rushed to pack up my gear before the impending storm but Mother Nature had other ideas.
I carried the contents of my tent to the nearby shelter and dumped everything inside. As the tempest reached its peak I was dry inside the shelter. All the other campers followed my lead. We all huddled inside the shelter packing up our gear and contemplating the day.
By 9am I resolved myself to a day of rain. The lightning and thunder had stopped so I suited up in my rain gear and set off alone to the calls of ‘good luck’ from the other hikers. I suspected most had some form of allergic reaction to water.
The persistent wind and rain continued all day. The trail was either a river or mud. Views from the exposed mountain peaks consisted of thick grey clouds. Some of the best scenery in the Great Smokies National Park was not visible. If I were to hike only on the clear days I suspect it might take me 8 months to hike this trail. Onwards I went.
I stopped at most of the shelters to snack on food and say hello to other hikers. I was met with sad faces and a glass half empty attitude from almost everyone. Weather does affect people’s mood, just go thru hiking and you will agree. I didn’t stop long at the shelters as I was wet and got cold quickly.
Around 6pm I stopped at yet another shelter full of miserable hikers. There was no way I was going to stay with such people so I pushed onwards. The next shelter had only a couple of people staying there with refreshingly positive attitudes. I set myself up for my first night staying in a shelter.
After a quick meal and conversation I wrapped myself in my sleeping bag to warm up. That was the last thing I remembered.