June 2nd 2018
Mountaineer Shelter – Laurel Fork Shelter (mile 421.4)
17.8 miles
Total miles: 432.2


I massively regretted not staying in the shelter last night. Around 9:30pm it started to rain and it started to rain really hard. The reason I camped was because it was such a nice afternoon and it showed no sign of raining. How wrong I was. A massive storm rolled in and lasted all night. There was thunder and lightening. A lot of thunder. 

I shut my eyes and tried to ignore it. At 11:30pm I woke with a start. Things were getting wet. It was raining so hard the rain was jumping out of the puddles and into my tent. Not good. On reflection I don’t think I pitched it properly for the rain. I pitched it more for ventilation. I also think there was some condensation problems occurring. I was so hot I was definitely radiating heat. So I wiped down the sides with my bandana, made sure my shoes hadn’t floated away – they hadn’t but they were sat in about an inch and a half of water. 

I was a bit worried that my whole tent would flood, but there was nothing I could do about it now. I just had to hope for he best. I tried to get some sleep but I seemed to wake up every hour or so. I shoved everything into my sleeping bag dry sack with the hope that it would be ok if the tent did flood. I put my hiking clothes under me on my sleep mat with the hope of keeping them dry. I wrapped my sleeping bag around me as tight as I could in the hope it wouldn’t touch the walls. I was way too hot but I though that maybe my body heat would help to dry the bag. 

I thought my PCT gear would be transferable. But if I were to plan again I would get a lightweight synthetic sleeping bag and some really lightweight sleep clothes and socks. The possum down ones are a bit too much. 

I tried to move as little as possible in the hope that my mat wouldn’t slide and I would end up touching the walls. When I woke around 5am the ground water had disappeared and my shoes were still there. The sides of my tent inner were covered in mud splashes. My bandana was soaked from catching the water coming in at the end of my tent. But overall things could have been a lot worse. 

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It was still drizzling a little bit I packed up to try and make the most of the weather window. I was faffing a lot and it took a while to get going. I didn’t leave camp until 7:40am. There didn’t seem to be any movement from Maslow’s tent. I shoved my wet tent into the outside pocket of my pack and I wore the trash bag skirt so it didn’t drip on me. I managed about half an hour before the rain absolutely chucked it down. 

It was the heaviest rain I’ve walked in. The trail turned into a wet boggy mess in about 30 seconds. I was slipping and sliding all over the place and it was so dark in some places that I was struggling to see where I was going. It rained and it rained and it rained. It’s so miserable hiking in the rain. I was going slow, only doing about 2 miles an hour. I couldn’t make my body move any faster, it was a struggle. Everything was a struggle. 

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My feet were soggy and gross but all I could do was keep going. I had no other choice. Given the circumstances I was actually quite dry and life wasn’t that bad. It certainly wasn’t cold and on the uphills I was breaking out into a sweat. There was little point trying to keep your feet out of the puddles because at one point there was a huge puddle with no other choice but to wade right through it. 

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Moon, who camped a couple of miles earlier than me last night caught up to and passed me. I was just moving so slowly. The rain began to ease a little and I could eventually put down my brolly, and I managed to speed up a tiny bit. A guy who stayed at the shelter last night, Indoor Kid, he caught up to me and passed me. He had plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis and he is still moving faster than me today!

I was aiming for the shelter 8 miles away to get some respite from the weather, of course when I got there the weather had cleared up and there were actually some patches of blue sky and some sunshine. Moon and Indoor Kid were there and another couple who I’d not met. I stopped briefly, long enough to eat a tuna packet and a small packet of Doritos. This afternoon was going to be difficult as I had eaten all my snacks this morning. 

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There was a lot of talking over each other going on and I didn’t hang around at the shelter for long. I wasn’t really sure where I was aiming for today, but with no opportunity to dry out my tent I didn’t really want to have to pitch that again, so when there was talk about a shelter 8 miles away I thought that sounded like a good option. I wanted to get a head start on the others because the shelter only sleeps 6 and I wanted to stand a chance of getting a space. 

Thankfully I was moving a bit quicker this afternoon, there was a little bit of an uphill and the sun had come out and it was actually pretty hot. Then on the downhill it was like someone had turned out the lights. It got really dark and there were lots of rumbles of thunder in the distance. I just had to hope it wasn’t heading my way. 

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Well, it was heading my way, or I walked straight into it. Either way I had about 2 seconds warning before the sky fell down. It felt like about an hours worth of rain fell in about 30 seconds. It was absolutely torrential for about a minute where all I could do was just stand there and let it batter me. The thunder was rumbling overhead. It eased but continued to rain and I began walking down the trail / river again. The forest was so dark for a while it felt like night time was descending. 

It continued to rain but it did get a bit lighter and luckily for me it was pretty much all downhill so I was able to go a bit quicker. Until I came across a tree which was a fresh blowdown. It was difficult to get over because of all the twigs and leaves sticking up but I managed it. 

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Eventually I made it down to the road crossing where I had the option of going 0.2 miles down the road and staying in a hostel. I decided against the hostel and carried on. This much be a popular spot with day hikers because the trail was wide and flat, and I saw about 10 day hikers heading towards me. They must have gone to see the waterfall. 

I splashed my way down the trail, wading through puddles, cleaning the mud off my shoes in the streams, or just generally on the trail. The trail descends down to Laurel Fork waterfall or stays high and goes off to the shelter. My intention was to go down to the waterfall but I missed the turning and by the time I realised I didn’t want to go back on myself. I wasn’t too upset. I’ve seen a lot of waterfalls. 

When I arrived at the shelter, around 4pm, it was empty! I was so happy about that. I took off my soggy shoes, my feet had been wet all day and they were starting to feel really sore so it was nice to get my horrible wet socks off. My feet were gross. 

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I played some music and relaxed for half an hour enjoying the solitude until Moon arrived. I took a little side trail to get some water and it was quite an intimidating water source. Basically a mini waterfall and it was a struggle to stay dry while collecting water. One wrong move and a nasty accident could happen here. 

Indoor Kid arrived as I was coming back and we all claimed our spaces in the shelter. We expect other people will come along. I ate dinner of a knorr pasta side which was just about palatable. A day hiker came up and he looked terrible. He said he felt terrible so we got him to sit down and made him drink some water. He said he still had a couple of miles to go but he felt like he hit a wall. We chatted with him for a while and when he left he gave us all the food he was carrying in his pack. I got an apple, and we got some cheesitz, beef jerkey and crasins to share. 

That apple was so good. He also gave it to me without the others knowing so when I sat quietly munching on it they both ditched their conversation and commented on the apple. “You packed out an apple?!” said Indoor Kid. “No she didn’t, I’ve been hiking around her long enough to know she didn’t pack out an apple.” said Moon. “The nice man gave it to me, he liked me better than you” I replied. 

Of course it’s now stopped raining. The sky is clear and blue and the sun is shining. I’ve attempted to dry my tent but the sun is weakened by the shade of the trees so it doesn’t dry much. 

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It’s still just the three of us. I don’t think anyone else will be arriving. We all do our chores and we’re in our sleeping bags at 7:30pm! It’s now 8:05pm and I’m just finishing up writing this. I get an hour of real down time tonight. Yes! 


Watch the video!

For this trip I made a daily video diary which you can watch here: DAY 25

 

 


 

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