The wind and the rain

Sleeping in the field left me feeling refreshed and ready for the days events.  I wanted to get some good miles in so I left before Goodfoot that morning.  Across from our field were other fields and on this particular morning there was a herd of cows feeding on grass not to far from the trail, or so I thought.  Climbing the fences and heading up the trail, snaking it’s way up the hill side, I found myself in the middle 9f the herd of cows.  They had at least a dozen calves and they were all clumped together right where I was going to head.  Standing there waiting and watching, the calves romped and chased each other around, smashing there heads into one another. At just 8 am and the kids were already playing, it was nice to see them have fun.

Before long I made my way across the field, through the woods and through few other farms.  So far all these farms have granted easements on thier property instead of selling or having it taken away.  I prefer this for some reason, to me it’s an everybody win scenario.  The fields led to a few road crossings where I found two coolers stacked up against a fence.  Trail magic? Could it be?  Booyah, two cold sodas left, one for me and one for Goodfoot. I quickly left him a note and headed to my next stop the pavillion.  Taking a little break I caught up on writing, this is when my hiking partner passed me on his way to the shelter.

Hiking up 700 ft and down the same I passed over the small mountain for the day.  This lead me to the shelter where I found the newlyweds eating breakfast late in the morning. Apparently they had gone back to Marion in error and couldn’t get back out to Atkins. We spoke briefly about my encounter with the bear and with Warren Doyle. I couldn’t stay long I had to catch up with Goodfoot for the day. Down I went to the gap the final low point before a momentous climb up 2000 feet of mountain.

After taking lunch by the riverside, i was ready to start my way up the mountain. The long steady climb started kicking my ass quickly, it was steadily steep at first.  The threat of rain had me swapping out to my rain gear, just then Warren passed by me again.  This was the third time in a few days and it was starting to become a regular thing.  He told me the mountain would be a steady up and that encouraged me for the day.  I hate when I look at the elevation on the guide and it’s horribly wrong. The long steady up gave way finally to a field, he the terrain became more gradual and smooth and my pace picked up.

I found myself looking at a pond before long, the only water source for quite sometime actually.  Resting just long enough to fill up I headed out across the open fields, looking at the only views for the day to my right.  I was high up on the mountain and there really wasn’t anything spectacular to look at. I didn’t stop for pictures I just kept walking up the steady gradual incline back into the woods. The trail after a while broke back out of the tools and into and field again, here to the left was and gain stone building that had to be the shelter. Here I found out I was about an hour behind Goodfoot.

The open view at the top wasn’t grand either so back down the trail I headed.  I knew rain was in my future and if I wanted to get some more miles done I’d have to get the lead out.  Fortunately the terrain was down hill for me for a while.  All the way down to walker gap I moved, steadily and quickly.  I paused for a moment to call Kim and to hear her voice. I had missed her and in truth I wanted to go home.  The thing is you never quit on an uphill or rainy day, you 9nly quit when the sun is shining, the terrain is flat, and you are taking are zero in some picture-perfect view camp.  If you’re unhappy then, that’s when you should go home.  These thoughts persisted to the water source where I had to fill up.

Water full I headed back up the next ridgeline, my hopes were low but I wanted to get so many more miles in.  The long climbs today had tired me out are zeroed I wasn’t in such a great mood.  That’s when I felt the drop in pressure, crap I thought the rain will be here soon. The sound was overwheleming, off to my left you could hear the wind ripping through the other mountainside. It made me think of a giant bulldozer crashing through the forrest, the sound was almost deafening.  I could hear it getting closer and closer, the bulldozer of wind making its way up my mountain to me. 

Boom I was hit instantly with 30-40 mile an hour winds, leaves, sticks, blew horizontally passed me.  The shear force of the wind nearly knocking me off by feet, as I could hear trees breaking and limbs falling.  Still off in the distance I could hear another growing sound coming closer, this one more akin to a wave than anything else. Splooosh, I was hit again this time with a literal wall of water as the sideways rain blasted me with such magnanimous volume.  The bright lightening and booming thunder loomed above me, I was right in the middle of the storm.  I was forced to he ground, I felt as if I had been hit by a ten foot wave, I had taken the 30 some mile an hour wind and rain to the face and I was on an open ridge.   Only a few rhododendrons stood between me and the cliffside and they provided so protection from the elements.

The gale force wind and rain whipped at me constantly as I trudged on.  I felt like I was Lt Dan on the boat cursing the storm, as I cursed and yelled to the storm, asking if that was all it had.  Laughing crazily I yelled to the storm in mock and jest.  I pushed on and up the ridge soaked to the bone, nothing was dry, not even my Sealskinz socks, I guess they aren’t hurricane proof though.  My feet sloshing in my boots I looked for shelter, I knew the longer I was up here in the high winds and being soaked I could become hypothermic if I was out too long.  As luck would have it, there would be no campsites for about an hour. Finally on an slightly covered flat spot I found a camp, with flat ground and no dead falls above.  All the rotted stuff had been knocked down from previous storms.  Lightning flashed and within a second thunder crashed through the clouds.  Standing, waiting, I hoped for the wind to die for a few minutes and the rain to let up. 

With my moment at hand I quickly set up my tent and got my stuff under the fly.  First things first I needed to call home and let them know where I was and how bad it was.  While I was on the phone I stripped naked, leaving my wet clothes outside my tent on my poles.  Drying myself off with my camp towel I shivered to get dry clothes on.  Everything I had was wet except one set of clothes, and if it wasn’t wet they would be soon.  I climbed in my sleeping bag before telling her I had to go.  Now for dinner, I was forced to cook under my vestibule for the first time.  Not something I want to regularly do but out of necessity.  Belly full, and getting warmer, I started to drift off to sleep, and sleep I would til like early morning.

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