May 19, 2018
Destination: Rausch Gap Shelter Today's Miles: 18
Start Location: Peters Mountain Shelter Trip Miles: 1177.30
I had a good sleep last night. I went to bed so early that I had to get up once at night to pee, and that was at 11:30!
It was nice to relax and read before bed. I was toying with the idea of hiking a 31 mile day today to William Penn Shelter. The elevation gains and losses seemed minimal, and I figured I could just push through the rain. When I woke up though at 5am, it was raining steadily and quite windy, such that it sounded like it was pouring. I decided to go back to sleep for an hour and see if the rain might lighten up. It did indeed, but it had gotten quite chilly. It was probably about 50 degrees out with a bit of wind. Today was a great combination for hypothermia! Funny enough, I was just thinking I should mail my rain pants home as I haven’t used them in a very long time. Today, I used them. I also used my raincoat. Lately when it has rained it has been warm enough for me to just hike in shorts and a T-shirt. Today I had to revert to wearing rain gear again to stay warm. I wore my shorts and T-shirt underneath (no commando rain pants today!).
It was a wet day. I’ll start with that. It rained and rained and the trail turned into a river. Even with these conditions, for a while I still thought I might hike the 31 miles to William Penn. But, then I got cold. The trail was easy hiking, so part of it was that there were no steep climbs where I could really get my blood pumping. I tried to move faster, but it’s hard to run through a trail river. At first I picked my way over rocks where I could to try and keep my feet from being water logged, but then I gave up. It was faster just to slosh through everything. I wished I could be like Moses and part the sea, but I could do nothing more than step into that cold mountain runoff.
As I hiked I listened to machine gun fire. Last night we heard mortars or some kind of bombs going off in the distance. Today I could hear machine guns and distant voices. There was some kind of military base nearby, but at certain points in time I couldn’t help but wonder if all of their bullets were going away from the trail....
I splashed along and made it the 18 miles to the Rausch shelter by 1:45. I had time to go 13 more, but I was cold, didn’t want to get into camp late, and also didn’t want to push boundaries with wet feet. There were 3 flip floppers at the shelter, so there was room for me. I had a bird in the hand, so I took it! I got set up and into dry clothes and immediately felt better. The Flip Floppers were Itchy and Scratchy (a couple from Baltimore) and Steady, from Oklahoma. It was fun talking with them. Hobbit and Sandals showed up, as did Bama Dog. Happy Feet is somewhere ahead, probably at William Penn.
I went to hang my food bag and a lovely deer walked right in front of me. It didn’t hurry and just walked up the hill into the woods to forage. It was a great end to my hiking day. Now I would eat, journal, eat, and read! I was grateful for the hike today even though it was so wet, and grateful that I made a sensible decision instead of pushing on. As a result, I met some cool people and made my feet happy. Maybe it won’t rain as much tomorrow!