Flashback – AT99 – March 26

Lost my cheese.  Not like in the book, I actually lost it.

14.2 to Russell Field Shelter.   Got a lift back from Fontana to NC28 from the security guard there at 6am, starting off in the pouring rain.   Waited in the bathroom building until dawn, then hiked over to the Dam.   Somewhere there’s supposedly an epic shelter, but staying indoors last night was worth it.   Dam is very cool.

Krispina and Marco Polo are here, as competitive as ever, bragging about how tasty their breakfast at the hotel was.  Nice.

On the way up Shuckstack, the rain slowed and changed to sleet, and then to snow.  It never got below about 30 though, so it was perfect hiking weather.   Not a sound other than my boots crunching in the leaves.  Really foggy, but very beautiful, I’m the only one on the planet.

Very quiet and peaceful all day today, walking through the groves of iced/snow-covered laurel and hemlocks, nothing but the sound of snow flurries hitting my raingear.  Really was hoping to be alone tonight, oh well.

“Oh, you’re the only one here?   Wow you sure made a mess” – quote when the hikers behind me got to the shelter and saw that my wet stuff was spread out.   I’M THE ONLY ONE HERE FOR CHRISSAKES.  There’s 4 guys ahead of me.  Casey is now 3 days ahead, man he’s fast.  At least Marco Polo will monopolize/manage the fire in the shelter (Smokies shelters are stone huts with fireplaces).  I did gather wood, but of course everything is covered in snow.

There’s 2 levels of 7-8 beds each, two big platforms.  I took a lower one in the corner, I’m rigging up my mylar blanket like a shower curtain to try and keep some heat in.  Man its cold.

Knee wasn’t too bad today, but it was definitely stiffening as I got here.  I think this was about my limit today, with this pack.   The other day I loaded 8 days at NOC after a 3 hour hitch (nobody picked me up, thinking I was Eric Raymond, the abortion bomber).   Been a heavy couple of days.  Planning a 16.0 tomorrow.   I could have probably done another 1.8 on top of today, so tomorrow should be OK.   Biggest issue is that we’re all supposed to stay in these shelters, so once you get in with a pack, you’re stuck with them.

I really wish I knew where my cheese was.   Hungry.