Mount Collins Shelter

5-13-12
AT miles hiked today: 8
Total AT miles hiked: 202.3
Other miles hiked: .5 to the shelter

I've hiked more than 200 miles on the AT! I hope this helps out the fundraising part of my hike. Rhubarb is doing great from what I read on his latest blog post, and even standing mostly in his own! Go Rhubarb!

This is a picture from yesterday since the rain made sure I took no pictures today, and saw no views either, kind of like that picture but worse. Bad luck for the day I climbed over Clingmans Dome, the highest point on the entire AT. There weren't really views yesterday either, though I got some pictures on my phone, of the grass, which was tall and blew in the wind, which made me happy.

Anyway, I actually enjoyed hiking in the rain today, for the first few miles. I took the steps into the deep mud puddles, which tried to suck off my shoes, and soaked my feet. After that, it didn't matter if I stepped in more puddles, so that is called the freedom step. I imagined myself as a little girl, splashing in the puddles and squishing through the mud. I sang rain themed songs and munched on the Snickers Marathon bar I had in my pocket for breakfast.

The terrain changed as I climbed up Clingmans Dome, and there were pine trees. Yay! I didn't go up to the dome or the tower, though, since there was no view and I was cold by then, with four more miles to go to this shelter. Houdini and I had caught up to Dan, Rachel and Rabbit at Silers Bald Shelter and they were on a mission to hike all twelve miles to Gatlinburg today. Houdini and I had decided to come to this shelter tonight, to save money, and then nero in Gatlinburg tomorrow. I am glad we chose to stop here. I was probably flirting with hypothermia and my toes were so cold they were stinging and I had to curl them as I walked to keep feeling in them, same with my fingers. Now I am dry and shivering in my sleeping bag, surrounded by tarps that Houdini hung around our little section of sleeping bags, imitating the tarp setup Rabbit, Dan and Rachel had over them in the shelter last night.

Six more people have showed up to take refuge from the rain, including ET and Spider, who I met at Mollies Ridge Shelter a couple of days ago. ET stands for Energizer Turtle, and they section hiked the Pacific Crest Trail over ten years. Now they are section hiking the AT. The other hikers magically made a fire with fire starters and mostly wet wood and we hung lines all over the shelter to dry our stuff, and tarps across the front to block the wind.

The rain hasn't stopped yet, and I can see my breath despite all the tarps and the fire. I feel lucky to be in a shelter tonight, and with such great company it made today a much nicer day than it had been.

Tomorrow there are five miles to hike to Newfound Gap, where we hope to hitch a free ride into Gatlinburg or Cherokee tomorrow. Maybe the rain will stop tonight.