Today was a very unusual day! As I wrote in the previous post, the rain began at 6:00 p.m. last night and it continued through most of the day today. I managed to break camp and get my tent packed without getting everything too wet.
As I walked out of camp at 7:45 a.m. there were about a dozen wild ponies hanging around the camp. It was pretty strange but got even stranger about two hours later when I walked through a small herd of longhorn cattle who were eating grass around the trail. I wondered briefly if my bright red rain jacket would tempt them into a bullfight with me but they seemed to be more nervous than I was and quickly cleared out of my way.
The weather for the first half of the day was horrible with driving rain, high winds and temperatures cool enough to make me think about how to avoid hypothermia. On top of that the trail was a mess with deep standing water in the flat areas and running water on the hills. I was pretty miserable and wondered if I had made a bad decision hiking in this weather.
Eventually I met up with Staff and being with him really lifted my spirits. He was hiking at a fast pace and keeping up with him helped me warm up and really got me in the zone. We arrived at Hurricane Mountain Shelter at noon. I called the Princess just to check in and she said our friends, Doug and Frances Dowdy, were driving through my area on their way back from Georgia. Despite broken cell phone communications I was able to meet up with them in Atkins, VA and they drove me to the town of Marion for a resupply stop at Walmart and then treated me to a delicious Mexican dinner. That’s what I call great trail magic – thanks Doug and Frances!
Tonight I’m staying at the Relax Inn (another Bates Motel), which caters to hikers. I ended up at the Relax Inn because while I was trying to arrange to meet up with Doug and Frances I ran into Whiskers and Rocket who were waiting for someone from the inn to pick them up. That sounded like a good idea so I hopped into the shuttle with them and checked into the inn. About a half hour later I made contact with Doug and he and Frances met me a short time later. If all if this sounds a little confusing, it was even more so in real time.
Anyway, what started out to be a really lousy day turned out to be great. The AT roller coaster strikes again!