June 2 - Nero in the rainy woods
Three people wandered into my camping area adjacent the shelter last night at 11 pm. Who hikes at 11 pm? Surely no one who wants to see what's around them. It took them until 12:30 to finally turn off their white headlamps which kept flashing into my hammock entrance only 30 yards away. Finally it was quiet again.
In the morning I packed up leisurely and it began to sprinkle as I set out but it stopped within a few minutes. The hike away from the shelter was an easy downhill and I watered up at the first stream I came to.
Beautiful fragrant flowering shrub, the mountain laurel, kalmia latifolia.
But then it was uphill. And I mean straight up. The hill was called Lynn Camp Mountain and although it only went up 600 feet in 1.1 miles, it felt a lot steeper.
Very near the top, it began to rain. It had been a hot and sweaty climb but still I put on my rain jacket. I was a bit out of sorts from lack of sleep I think, and couldn't decide how to handle the rain. Do I walk? Do I string the tarp and wait it out?
My mind was made up for me at the very top. The trail came up to a flat spot with two perfect trees and then it plunged down precariously right away.
I've been telling people that the beauty of a hammock-tarp combination is that I can put up the tarp and then, staying dry beneath it, open my pack and then string up my hammock without getting anything else wet. But I'd never done it.
I've learned on this trip not to second guess myself, as things have been working out regardless of the thinking. So without hesitation, I dropped the pack and pulled out the tarp and stakes I keep in outside pockets and set it up. Then I put up the hammock and then I wondered what I was going to do. It was only 10 am.
Nero day set-up.
I decided to make coffee. And not Gronk coffee with floaty bits but real Starbucks Via. Kind of expensive but worth it when you want a good instant cuppa joe.
I sipped coffee and I thought about staying put and taking a 'nero' day (I'd hiked 2.3 miles, so "near zero"). One of my mini goals on this trip was to take a zero day in the woods in the hammock instead of in a motel in town. This was my chance for that.
An hour later, two female hikers appeared and one longingly looked at me sitting high and dry under my tarp rigged in porch mode. I was reading on my Kindle App. The older of the two, 60ish, said she had a sore ankle and wondered if she could come in out of the rain. It's not a big tarp but I said of course.
She dropped her pack and pulled out her Tyvek ground cloth to sit on and spent about 20 minutes resting and having a snack. Her name was Sarah from NC and she was section hiking with her younger friend for several weeks. Then she donned her rain gear and pack and disappeared down the trail.
The zero in the woods I had originally anticipated, was me lounging off the beaten track (read, stealth camping out of sight) and not on the doorstep of the A.T. High is where I was. Numerous soaking wet hikers came by and I swear some were glaring at me in my "house" and I felt quite the wimp for not being out there with them. But then I got over it! :)
(Not sure this view belongs here but it is so pretty, I figured it might have been a break on the rain at the top of the hill on this day. Ed.)
Sarah told me that the forecast was for 80% chance of rain during the day and then thunderstorms after 2 pm, so even when the rain slowed to a trickle and it got brighter, I stayed put. I could see fog down the mountain and I knew the rock and roots would be slippery.
I read. I meditated. I read some more and made notes in my pad to save my phone battery. I talked with 15 hikers. I napped then made dinner. I sat in my hammock and just watched. The rain stopped but then a fog rolled back in a while later and sure enough that was followed by a rain shower. Just like it had been an hour before.
I watched bugs the likes of which I'd never seen, walk to and fro through my camp. One coloured a yellow brown and, having wings and a longish abdomen, looking a lot like a dragon fly, bounced repeatedly on the ground using his butt end for the bounce. Boing, boing, repeatedly. ???
I watched an ant carrying an egg try to avoid a spider which gave pursuit. Don't know who won as they disappeared behind a rock. Life unfolding.
For a day with little hiking, it was very productive. A really good day. :)