Day 2 began being enveloped in the clouds. It rained slightly overnight, but more of the moisture was from the 100% humidity than anything else. Perfect hiking weather. The trek down from Springer to the parking lot was straightforward. However, due to the humidity and my ability to sweat, I could not see much as my glasses fogged up, so at the parking lot I switched to contacts. I also used my umbrella for the first time, and absent getting it to ride just right, I like it. I am sure those adjustments will happen in time and I’ll know just how to strap it on.
The goal today was Hawk Mountain Campsite, 7.2 miles. I left at 9(ish) and was there by 12:30. That seemed ridiculously early to stop for the day, but my legs were beat. Uphills kill me. I can do flat and down just fine. So I decided to rest for an hour and a half and then made dinner. After cleanup I thought I was good for a few more miles and headed onward.
I was going to stay at Horse Gap, but the next day’s early morning weather report was ugly, so instead I decided to push on to Cooper Gap where I had water. I had no intention of getting up and hiking in a thunderstorm, although plenty did. There was about a dozen folks at Cooper Gap and the early night was uneventful.
Day 3 began with waking up about 6:30 with a huge roar through the trees. Then the rain began. I knew we were in for it so I rolled over, put in the ear plugs and went back to sleep. Woke up a couple times and finally at 10:30 decided it was time to see what was going on. Sounded like maybe it was over. I got up, went across the road to gather my bear bag and was amazed that everyone else was gone save for a couple of us. When I got back, I went to talk to another guy who was up and I immediately noticed he was slurring his words and shivering. He is something like 72, never has been hiking and is doing a thru. That information was gathered later. From what I was able to get out of him at the time, he stayed on the mountain overnight wrapped in his poncho. When he got to Cooper Gap at 9 am he huddled down under his poncho trying to stay dry. He was attempting to set up his tent when I got to him but did not know how. He was soaking and shivering uncontrollably which actually is good. It is when you stop shivering that things get serious.
In the next hour we got his tent set up, got him into some dry clothing and I made him a cup of warm coffee. At that point another hiker, trail name Croc, showed up. He is a thru hiker from a few years ago and knew Mighty Mouse, the hypothermic hiker. He said they would stick around and make sure he was okay. Before I started packing up for my day we made sure he was in his sleeping bag. Unfortunately, he did not have a hat with him so I gave him my Rab beanie, which I have never used and only weighs like something under an ounce. Why couldn’t he have needed something heavier? I’ll pick up a replacement at Neels Gap. Croc suggested the trail name Good Samaritan. Certainly could be a lot worse.
From that point I hiked to Gooch Gap Shelter and decided that was enough for the day. From a physical standpoint day 3 or 4 is the worst of it. Perhaps for me this time it will be day 3. If so it only gets better from here. Tomorrow about 8 miles. Hopefully.
Now on day 4. I have parts written in my head already, but running out of power so it won’t be up for a couple of days. Forgive the editing as well please. Leslie feel free to edit these. I am sure there are misspellings, formatting issues, and other stuff. Once I have a keyboard it will be easier.