27th April 2017

17.4 miles

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.

The Hut as the storm hit

I’m told it should be a great view from here

My first night in a shelter

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13 Responses

  1. burt4754

    Brad, I love your style and attitude. You are an educated and great writer….looking forward to your books when you return to the “real world”. From my bicycle touring experience, I agree with you completely about pushing on when the weather is grim. Keep on keeping on….

    Reply
  2. Mike D

    Seems like there is a direct coorelation between the close proximity to comfort services and the attitude of hikers to the poor weather. Is that your impression?

    Reply
    • BikeHikeSafari

      I think it’s more case that a very high percentage of people hiking the AT have never been hiking before and don’t have the same love of nature that I have. I’m more accepting of the bad days, I think.

      Reply
      • Ian

        Have they never been hiking, or never been thru-hiking? I’ve heard on the AT there is actually some of the latter. Nothing wrong with that, but certainly makes for a trial by fire.

      • BikeHikeSafari

        Both, there is a high percentage of people who have never been on an overnight hike before. It is understandably a very steep learning curve with few experienced hikers to learn from. Respect to all the people in the trail for giving it a go.

  3. Heather

    “an allergic reaction to water” ~ haha! Did you have any problems with mice in the shelter?

    Reply
    • BikeHikeSafari

      No mice yet. I’ve only stayed in one shelter. Some people have claimed there are ninja mice in some shelters.

      Reply
  4. bert courson

    Did you walk with your umbrella in the rain? If so, would you have a picture to share?

    Reply
    • BikeHikeSafari

      I walked with it on day 1 and there should get some photos. It doesn’t work well in wind, so didn’t use it in the Smokies

      Reply
  5. Kelly Hikes

    I give. Sawyer vs Aqua Mira. There are so many thru-hikers using the Sawyer pump and then I see your Smart Water bottle with the infamous Sawyer. Im guessing you are sold on it. I just got done hiking a section on AZT and wish I had one. Drinking out of cow ponds just wasn’t appealing with no pump. But then, Im not sure if the Sawyer would have made the water taste any better or look any different? Any thoughts?

    Reply
    • BikeHikeSafari

      I drank from cow urine ponds on New Mexico on the cdt, the Sawyer worked well. Another option rather than aqua mira is bleach, available for free in every hotel. Very popular with lots of hikers, nowadays

      Reply
  6. bert courson

    I have read you do not carry a stove … to save weight. Any chance you will carry a stove now?

    Reply
    • BikeHikeSafari

      I do carry a stove. I may get rid of the stove when it warms up

      Reply

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