|Watermelon party at Graymoor|
|Dawn at Graymoor|
We set out with some snacks & water in the intense heat. It was a blessing when the skies opened and a tremendous rainstorm burst over our heads. It was so refreshing & thrilling to run down the trail in the rain. All the water sources had been dry in those parts, so it was bizarre to see the trail turn into an ankle-deep rushing stream. Every step was under water, but raced down the trail. We got up to an exposed ridge line and lighting & thunder were crashing all around us. I made the executive decision for the group that we would wait in the rain before crossing a ridge amidst the lightning. I didn't want to seem wimpy, but at the same time, I realized the severity and real danger of lightning. We waited about 10 minutes until we could count a few Mississippi's between lightning strikes & thunder booms before we sprinted across a huge rock with a big American flag painted on it. I wish I'd taken a picture, but we were just trying to get to back into the trees as quickly as possible. We showed up at the shelter earlier than expected, totally soaked, but were so grateful for the burgers & hot dogs cooked by trail maintenance guys. UT met us there with our packs & dry clothes, and also a big suitcase of cold beers - a perfect end to the day. Unfortunately, the storm continued all night and the rain was so loud, we had another sleepless night.
Monday morning, totally exhausted, we hiked down to the home of a nice woman that we'd met the night before at the Hiker Feed. With all our clothes still soaking and only 3 miles to go, Pants & I decided to have a "Hike in Your PJ's Day" and set out in our sleeping tee shirts & long johns. We hiked over to Amy's house - her husband did a thru-hike a few years back and they live near the RPH shelter and like to help out hikers. They offered to let us come by the house in the morning to shower, do laundry, and have breakfast. Moments like this are just so wonderful. I can't express how nice it is to be in a home.
|Amy, Ella, & Claire - trail angels!|
|Naptime on the AT|
I was also starting to think that it may be good for me to hike on my own for a bit. For most of my hike I've been with a group and I really, really love the people I've been hiking with. However, I was craving some quiet, alone time on the trail. I wanted to reconnect with myself and remember the reasons I personally had decided to take on this big adventure. I also had started to think about my life in a bigger post-trail picture and wanted some time to myself to brainstorm & write about that.
I set out hiking and had a great day. A big highlight that day was seeing the Dover Oak - the largest tree on the AT and absolutely stunning.
Also - thanks so much for the sweet, encouraging comments from the last post. I love y'all!!