0 miles, 2105.6 overall, 78.6 remaining (Carl A Newhall Lean-to)
I wake up before 6:00 and immediately start packing. The thunderstorms moved in last night as I was going to sleep and I’m hoping that the rain has passed. I feel the urge to move on. It is a hard thing to fight. I’ve gotten so used to getting up and packing my things that it would feel strange not to. Still, I have a decision to make and I don’t feel like I have enough data. From inside the tent I can hear rain drops falling but they could be simply falling off the trees. Luckily I need to pee so I get out of my tent. As I do I realize it is still incredibly cloudy and that it is still drizzling. Once I do my business I get back into my tent and, resolved that today will be my zero day, eat a small breakfast and go back to sleep.
I don’t wake up again until 8:00. I get out of my tent and saunter over to the shelter. The APE team and Philly have left, as well as April Showers and her husband. However one hiker arrived late last night after I was in my tent and he is still here. His name is Bahalla Na and he is also going to take a zero. Together we sit in the shelter killing time.
I start by doing some reading. Someone has left A Feast For Ravens, the fourth book in the Game of Thrones series, and I read the first several pages of it before I get tired of it. It is one of those fantasy books with tons of characters. There is even an appendix in the book that attempts to organize the characters and how they are all related. I always have trouble keeping the characters straight in these types of books and I’m already getting lost only 15 pages in. It makes me sleepy and the day is cold so I take my sleeping bag and pad from my tent and lay out on the shelter floor for a nap.
Around 10:30 I get up from my nap and start to listen to my audiobooks instead. One hiker arrives while I’m listening. He is going southbound and has stopped for some early lunch and to wait for his buddy. A little while later Progress and Joiner arrive. They left Monson after I did and have now caught me again. They are soaked from the rain and seeing them makes me incredibly happy that I didn’t decide to hike. They stop for lunch but, being wet already, are dedicated to hiking on in order to make the day worth it. I wish them luck and, when Progress mentions the bad mood she is in, I quote Say Anything to them: “How hard is it to just decide to be in a good mood and then be in a good mood?”
Some time later Yellowtail and Sunroof roll into the shelter. I expect the same sequence of events: stop, eat, move on. For a little while I’m right. They both want to move on to make it worth getting wet. However they make a rookie mistake that Progress and Joiner did not make: they remove their wet shoes and socks. This is fatal to their plans since it is so unappealing to put wet socks and shoes back on your feet. Pretty soon they are settling into the shelter and planning to stay the night.
The hard part about an on-trail zero, and the part I didn’t properly anticipate, is how hungry you can get. It is hard to watch other hikers come through the shelter and eat in front of me without wanting to eat with them. I have enough food for a day of hiking, but sitting in the shelter I have nothing to do but think about how hungry I am and look longingly at my food bag. Luckily Sunroof and Yellowtail have some extra food that they want to get rid of. Sunroof gives me some gorp he has been carrying for a while and doesn’t like, and Yellowtail gives me an extra oatmeal packet. Between the two I am able to get by until dinnertime without suffering too badly.
We pass the rest of the day in the shelter. For some of the time we work on crossword puzzles that Sunroof and Yellowtail have brought along. The rest of the time is spent talking. Most of our talk can be lumped into two categories: reminiscing about our hikes, or food. Food is always a hot topic of conversation on the trail but as the ends of our hikes draw nearer we have become much more likely to talk about cool things that happened to us, people we have met, favorite places on the trail, etc.
It is a cool night and the shelter is full. A few more section hikers showed up followed by Caveman, his friend Willie, and his dog Captain showed up last and have to tent because there isn’t any more space. I cook dinner in the shelter with the others before I head to my tent to sleep. I have 3 days of food left with which to get out of the 100 mile wilderness and I still have about 65 miles left to go. I plan to do a long day tomorrow over what looks to be mild terrain in order to catch up a bit and make the last few days easier on the Appalachian Trail.