The shelters on the trail are pretty cool. They are generally three sided structures with a wooden floor well off of the ground. I know I have taken a picture with my good camera, but unfortunately do not have one on my phone to share. Each shelter is rated to a certain number of hikers and they are first come, first served. Generally I would prefer to be in my tent, but occasionally the shelters can be a good thing. To be honest, I thought being on the trail at the tail end of the season, that they would be less than full on most nights, but so far almost every night, wherever I have ended up, there has been at least 20 people. It is a very busy trail.
Each shelter has a shelter log book which hikers can sign, or write a paragraph or share a story. Some of them can be very entertaining, but I am speaking only from my experience of reading pictures of them posted online as, absent the log at the top of Springer Mountain, I have not touched a shelter log book. The main reason I have not is that I do not wish to get Norovirus, which goes around the trail community every year. About two weeks ago it was rampant down here where I am at right now, so I am attempting to be very careful so as not to contract the dreaded virus. Since I have been on the trail I have not been keeping up with it so much, so not sure if it is still going on, or if it has passed. In any event, later on in my hike I will sign the log books and share some of the funny items from the books. But for now, safety first.
So a couple of days ago, Croc, Rock Steady and I are trying to get to Low Gap Shelter for the night. The weather report was ugly and the temperature was only going to go lower. At one point sleet was in the forecast. So here we are, old guys hiking along and keeping what we think is a pretty good pace. It was a good pace. But throughout the day we were being passed by the younger hikers. The ones that just power up the uphills as if there was little to no resistance. I was even passed by a guy in his mid to upper 20’s wearing sandals and a full pack. I don’ think he had broken a sweat yet. Sandals. Are you kidding me?
So the young, vibrant kids, sleep in, take their time in the morning, get there (wherever there is) quicker than we do and when they get there have more energy and stamina than us. It hardly seems fair to be honest, but it is what it is.
Until we roll into camp. Low Gap Shelter in this case. In the rain. And the shelter is full. Of the young kids who slept in. Powered past us as if we were standing still. Got to the shelter before the rain started (and could have setup a tent in the dry weather) and claimed their spot. Leaving us old, tired folks to setup our tents. In the rain. And mud. While exhausted.
It is not fair. If they had to deal with what we had to deal with, they would not make it. I am certain of that.