Day 12 – Wayah Bald Shelter to A. Rufus Morgan Shelter

15.5 miles, 44,921 steps, 284 stairs climbed

145.1 miles, 417,951 steps, 3752 stories climbed

Today was a difficult day. 
It began with a mostly sleepless night. Mainly due to the buckets of rain falling on my tent, but the howling coyotes about 50 yards away didn’t help much either.
The morning came quickly and I stayed in a bit since it was pouring and the rain was supposed to stop midday (midday ended up being around 4pm) so I figured I’d wait a bit, at least hoping it would slow down, but it never did. 
I eventually got up and had to change from the warm dry clothes I slept in into the cold wet clothing I wore yesterday. Putting on sweaty, wet clothes is never a great start to the day.  Then I packed my tent and bag in the pouring rain. Bad start to the day but nothing to do but hike north.
Just had to put one foot in front of the other and keep hiking north. 
As I was walking, probably one of the worst things that could happen to a hiker, and has probably happened to every hiker at some point or another, happened to me.  That damn song by the Pretenders got stuck on replay in my head. I just kept hearing those horrible voices singing “and I would walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more…” I tried everything to get it out of my head but it wasn’t working.
Eventually, music became the least of my concerns. The trail was so covered in mud and so slippery that I almost fell a number of times. Slipping on tree branches, on mud, on rocks…almost falling down into ditches and valleys a number of times but luckily, my hiking poles saved me each time. They were a great investment!
I came across another mountain top with a lookout tower and again the fog destroyed any chance of seeing anything other than a mass of gray.
It was still peaceful and beautiful however. 
I eventually got to a shelter where I had to decide whether or not to keep hiking. The trail elevation was not in my favor as the guidebook showed a massive V in the terrain. If I stopped at the shelter I would have a 2200 foot descent to start the day followed by a 3300 foot climb. If I continued to the next shelter today then I would face a 1700 foot drop today and deal with the rest tomorrow.
I chose to walk on and the trail gods disapproved.  As I’m walking, about a half mile after moving on from the shelter, I hear a loud crack!  About 10 feet in front of me a branch, big enough to be considered a tree, fell straight down on to the trail and then fell to the right, luckily away from me. Needless to say I was quite shaken. 

the branch that tried to kill me

I kept walking and started the ridiculously steep and muddy downhill.  Going uphill is tiring but downhill is painful. The amount of pressure on the knees, especially with a backpack, is excruciating.  At points, the steps were over 2 feet high, sometimes it was just climbing down boulders and also of course there was slipping through pretty deep mud. I am so glad I bought waterproof boots.
Eventually, I made it to my goal for the evening and thankfully the rain has stopped so, hopefully my tent will dry out a bit as my clothes mostly have.
Now, the weather should start warming up a bit and it’s supposed to be sunny tomorrow.  It’ll be a rough day of hills but I’m looking forward to hopefully getting to see some beautiful views.
Now time to enjoy a bonfire that some guys are trying to get going and enjoy a nice relaxing night with the soothing sounds of a little stream about 25 feet from my tent.  There is nothing better than a bonfire after such a tough day. 

5 thoughts on “Day 12 – Wayah Bald Shelter to A. Rufus Morgan Shelter

  1. I can’t really say how I feel after reading this. I’m so worried about your knees since you’ve had trouble with them in the past. I really hope the weather gets better and it stops raining. The thought of you falling and getting hurt scares me. I love and miss you and can’t wait for this to be over. ❤

  2. Sorry. Just one of those bad days so that the good ones seem so much better. Wrap it all together, and you have a trip of a lifetime. (small consolation while you’re up to your hat in mud and wet, I know, but …)

  3. You know, the other day a man with your same first name wad killed by a falling tree on the AT. I was pretty sure then it wasn’t you- he was north of D.C., and you haven’t made it that far yet. Spooky to hear you had a similar episode, glad you made it through. I’m following your story. Adelante!

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