June 22nd 2018
Brown Mountain Creek Shelter – Seeley-Woodworth Shelter (mile 821.8)
15.8 miles
Total miles: 838.7


I think some people came into camp really late last night. There was lots of headlight activity going on, casting all sorts of weird shadows on my tent. 

It rained for most of the night. I woke up just before midnight when it was really heavy and saw then it was coming into my tent a bit. They must have changed the design a bit because I didn’t remember my old one doing this. All I could do was close my eyes and let it rain. 

I woke early but lay there for a while because my body wasn’t ready to move. I only had to walk 2 miles to the road so I wasn’t in a big hurry. I packed up and noticed that people had hung their bear bags in a way that I could reach them. If they think a bear isn’t going to be able to get them!  

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I hiked the 2 miles to the road. It was a gentle uphill and I was at the road at about 8:45am. The road was deserted. I picked a spot to hitch from and put my hair down and waited for a car. A whole bunch came at once and the third car stopped for me. I think it was less than 5 minutes. 

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The guy said his brother had hiked the AT and he had given other hikers rides before. He had a dog in the car and he was most interested in hanging his head out of the window. The guy was looking on his mobile phone to show me pictures of his farm and he was swerving in the windy road, which was a bit scary at times, but he took me right to the door of the supermarket alive so that was good. 

I checked my phone. I thought I may have a message from Short Shorts. Nope. Nada. I wandered around the supermarket. Up and down every aisle looking for inspiration. I didn’t find any and ended up buying the same old junk. I did find a new flavour of Welches fruit snacks though which was a great part of the day! 

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As I was wandering the aisles I got a message from Short Shorts. He’s at the highway. Oh shit. So it turns out he hiked slow yesterday and he stopped to go swimming in the James river and the reservoir. So I was ahead of him all day. I didn’t think for a moment that he would be behind me. He camped at that camp site at 25 miles. The one we agreed to. He got there 10 minutes after I left it. I’m an idiot. All that upset for nothing. I do blame it mostly on the exhaustion. 

So he got a ride into town, people had said the hitch was really hard but we both got a ride really easily, and he met me in the Food Lion. I finished my resupply. Went outside and ate the apple I bought and drank the chocolate milk and organised my food. 

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I went into the supermarket restroom to wash bandana in the sink, liberated a little toilet paper, and a woman came in and had a massive stinky poo. I was trying not to gag and I got out of there as quick as I could. 

Sort Shorts finished his resupply and then we waited there for his new shoes to be delivered. Someone was driving them over from Glasgow. It was getting really hot out and we sat under the shade of a tree. It wasn’t too long before the lady came and then we could hitch back into town. Town is really spread out and we didn’t want to walk back because it was a couple of miles. 

We stood next to the entrance of the store and a lady pulled over and asked us if we needed to go to town. Yes! A ride without trying. The best type of ride. She even had a kid in the car who was telling us that he has been around town trying to catch dinosaurs. The new Pokemon Go apparently. 

The nice lady dropped us at the pizza restaurant as we had heard it was good, and we got a bit over enthusiastic and ordered an extra large pizza each, plus a 2 litre bottle of Mellow Yellow (a poor mans Mountain Dew) to share. What we should have done is share a pizza. I don’t know what we were thinking. There was no way we would be able to eat all that. But we could pack it out and take it with us. It was the saltiest pizza I had ever eaten. It hurt my mouth and lips, and I burnt the roof of my mouth as I was too eager to eat it. 

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We were in there for a couple of hours. They are really hiker friendly, they gave a 10% discount and let us charge electronics and fill up water etc. I had a sudden urge to go to the bathroom and everything came out of my bum very quickly and very loosely. This seems to happen every time I go to town. I know it can’t be the food I just ate, it can’t go through me that quickly. The common thread to these episodes is that I’ve eaten fruit a couple of hours before every time. Maybe I should just give up on the fruit. My body doesn’t like it! 

We checked the weather. 100% chance of thunderstorms all afternoon and all night. Great! So we looked at places to camp and saw there was a shelter 14 miles away. It would be a push for me to  make that but I would give it a go. Just this morning I said I would stick to my own schedule, but here I am trying to keep up to someone else’s! I guess I’ll just never learn. I also guess that I will continue to trust people and I will also continue to get let down. That’s just the way it is. 

At 1:30pm we realised we had been in town long enough and needed to leave if we were going to get to the shelter before dark. We walked the half mile out of town to get back to highway 60 where we could hitch from. I tried to hitch a ride with a cop car. “No that’s a cop!” cried Short Shorts. Is hitching illegal in Virginia? He said it was illegal all over the states. If they stopped I would just plead an ignorant Brit. Really though I don’t think they give a stuff about hikers trying to hitch a ride, it’s not worth their while. 

A car pulled in and it looked like he was stopping to give us a ride but he pulled away again. Short Shorts thought it was because there was a cop car nearby. After a few minutes the car came back and picked us up. He said he pulled over and then realised he had a load of groceries in the back of his car, so he stopped and made room for us and then came back to get us. How nice is that! 

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He lived out that way and is used to seeing hikers in town. He said he wasn’t worried at all about the cop car. As I thought, they aren’t bothered about hikers. Remember that time in Northern California, the local police department had nothing to do so they gave us a ride back to the trail! Short Shorts was carrying 4 bits of pizza and they were quite heavy. He offered them to the man who was giving us a ride and I thought as he was doing it that he would regret that later. I was carrying 2 slices in my bag. 

We saw some people we thought were hikers walking up the road, it was an 8 mile uphill road walk to get back to the trail, seems kinda crazy! 

Back at the trailhead there was a 2000ft climb to start with. Short Shorts said he was going to take the forest service road instead and cut off the climb. I could have done that too, but I’ve come here to hike the trail so I stuck to the trail, even though it was a big uphill which I hate! I know I always get to the top in the end. 

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After being very dehydrated for a couple of days, the litre of soda and the half litre of water I drank in town sorted that out. I kept having to pee and it was crystal clear and plentiful, unlike the dark orange colour it has been! I was definitely dehydrated. 

I set about the 2000ft climb, it wasn’t that bad. It still took me a while but that was expected. About half way up it started to rain a bit so the rain kilt came out and the umbrella went up and it didn’t come down for the rest of the day. It rained all afternooon. 

I tried to maintain a good pace and I really sped up on the downhills to make up some time. The first summit was the inappropriately named Bald Knob. It was a completely wooded summit with no views. Not that there would have been a view anyway. I was in a total white out of cloud. 

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The next summit was Cole Mountain, this one was bald and open and exposed. With the thunder rumbling I was trying to get back in the trees quickly. I passed a bunch of very soggy hikers who were coming towards me. They all marvelled at my rain set up. It is good. I did feel very happy with it and a bit smug as they were all in their soggy waterproof jackets, no doubt wet on the inside anyway from sweating. It was raining but it was still warm. 

One man told me that I was really late coming through and when I get half way I should flip up to Maine and head south. I don’t think I’m that late. There are hundreds of people behind me, and I think I’ll make it to Maine without needing to flip. 

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I made it back into the safety of the trees and now the big climbs were out of the way I could try and go a bit faster. At this rate I would get to the shelter about 9pm. That’s pushing it. 

I had to stop for a couple more wees, but I managed to do it without removing my pack. It’s a good job I will probably get the chance to do laundry in a couple of days. I hiked as hard as I could, trying not to slipsand trying not to injure myself. I was doing well. The rain was alternating between drizzle and pouring. I was listening to an audio book and I had to turn it up a lot when it poured. 

When it got to 7pm I had 4 miles left. Maybe I’ll make it before 9 I began to think. I was just going to go as fast as I could but my stomach had started to hurt and I needed something to eat. I really didn’t want to stop but I managed to grab a cliff bar out my bag and I took a bit of the pizza. That gave me the little boost I needed to keep going. 

All I could do was hope there was room in the shelter, it wasn’t going to be a pleasant experience if I had to pitch my already wet tent in the rain and around 8pm it was starting to get really dark. Not helped by the fact it was cloudy and raining in a misty forest! I was practically running in some parts desperate to just be there. 

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When I arrived there was one space left in the shelter. Phew. It was an awkward shelter. There wasn’t really any porch area so it was hard to organise stuff. Short Shorts was already there having arrived about an hour earlier. Like I thought, he regretted giving away his pizza. I could have devoured both my pieces but I gave one to him. There were some people on the other side of the shelter who were a little odd. They were watching a movie on their phone without headphones. They also had their stuff draped all over the shelter. Not good hut etiquette! I moved the shoes when I got no response to asking who they belonged to and I set up my stuff. Everything is damp. 

It’s even a little chillier tonight and I decided to put my long legs on, but when I pulled them out of my bag and put them on there were some wet patches on them. Weird as everything is inside a trash bag, I felt inside, and the inside of the trash bag doesn’t feel wet but the inside bottom of my bag is very wet. Nothing else seemed to be wet, just those, so I put them on anyway and figured they would dry overnight. 

That one slice of pizza wasn’t enough for dinner but it was too late to do anything about it. I would just have to go to bed hungry. 

Passed 9pm the people were still watching that terrible sounding movie out loud. I decided I would give them until I had finished writing this and then ask them to turn it off or use headphones. I didn’t need to do that because they switched it off about 9:30pm and I’m still writing at 10:25pm! 

The good thing about today was that with all the rain there have been hardly any bugs. But the light of my phone is now attracting them which is horrible. 


Watch the video!

For this trip I made a daily video diary which you can watch here: DAY 45

 

 


 

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