17.7 miles, 2029 overall, 155.2 remaining (Pierce Pond Lean-to)
It rains off and on all night. In the morning everything outside is wet. Some of the things in my tent are also wet. It seems I have a leak somewhere, either in the bottom of my tent or in something that I keep in my tent that holds water (ie, my Camelbak or my water bladder). It isn’t a horrible leak but it is enough to be annoying. I have to pack up a wet tent and by the time I am done, eat breakfast, and am ready to go everyone is gone, including Sunroof and Yellowtail who are usually incredibly late starters. This morning it seems the early starts of everyone else have motivated them to get moving.
The goal today is to get to Pierce Pond. The reason is because less than half a mile from that shelter there is a place called Harrison’s where you can get a 12 pancake breakfast. Not only that, but we’ve heard these pancakes are delicious, chock full of bits of apple, raspberry, and blueberry. The terrain appears to be easy enough and the distance isn’t too bad. The x factor is the weather. The report calls for more rain today. If it is anything like yesterday I should be ready for it, but it is still depressing to know that our feet will stay wet for at least one more day.
I get moving and after only an hour or so I reach the first pond of the day. On the way to it is a boggy area with a bridge built over it. As i step on the bridge it sinks a bit but stays above the water. I stop and contemplate it for a few seconds before I take my next step. When I do the whole thing goes under. My feet get soaked. This is my warning of how the day is going to go.
I pass Yellowtail and Sunroof taking a break at the lake. It is very foggy so there aren’t good views. The trail follows around the lake for a while and as I’m hiking it starts to sprinkle. I heed the warning and don my rain gear, letting Yellowtail and Sunroof pass me as I do. Over the next hour or so the rain comes down but never really pours. I make it to the first shelter of the day relatively dry for lunch. There are two hikers here taking a zero, not wanting to get wet today. Sunroof informs me that there is free food in the shelter left by other hikers. After rummaging through it all I find that I’m interested in is tortillas and peanut butter so in addition to my fish tortilla I grab a free tortilla and dip it in the peanut butter.
When I leave he shelter the sun is trying to poke through the clouds. I figure I’ll try to help by putting my rain gear away. Over the next few miles it occasionally sprinkles lightly but never anything serious. I listen to some music and hike along some ponds that, on a warm day, would be tempting to swim in. I pass Stats as he hikes southbound on what he promises is his last slackpack of his thru-hike.
Just after I pass Stats the skies open up without a warning (note: the sprinkles over the preceding hours probably should have been warning enough). By the time I am able to get my rain gear on I am already wet. The trail quickly becomes a river and for the remainder of the day I am sloshing through puddles.
I finally reach Pierce Pond shelter. When I get there it is obvious that a) there’s a Boy Scout troop here and b) there’s no room in the shelter for me. I had been hoping to not have to put up my tent in the rain but I doesn’t look like I’m going to be that lucky. Fortunately there is a short break in the rain and I’m able to get it set up quickly. Not so fortunately the bottom of the tent is completely wet, either from being packed up already wet, being put up in the rain, or because of a leak letting in water. Worst case I am going to have a wet night. Best case it might dry out a bit before I go to sleep.
My immediate concern is making sure I’m signed up for breakfast at Harrison’s. The place is almost a half mile away and he requests a reservation the night before. I’m not in the mood to walk another half mile in the rain, but I’ve been told that the Noodleheads already headed that way and that Possum and Philly Steve followed a bit later. After I set up my tent I head back down to the shelter where I find that Possum has made his way back. He assures me that my spot for breakfast has been reserved. With that taken care of and the shelter looking rather full I inform everyone that I’m heading to my tent for the night. It is only just after 4 but I have no interest in getting out again for any reason.
I go to work trying to dry the bottom of the tent the best I can. My pack towel can only do so much but after wringing it out a few times the bottom of the tent is only damp rather than soaking wet. I wring out my socks and am happy that tomorrow is new sock day. I lay my thermarest out to provide something dry to sit on and I change from wet clothes to dry ones. Then I cook dinner in my vestibule and eat in my tent. By the time I go to sleep I am mostly dry and I feel like I may be on the upswing. As I finish the day a survival maxim comes to mind – “always keep improving your situation.” Hopefully tomorrow the weather will cooperate as I try to improve my situation on the Appalachian Trail.