March 18, 1998

3/18/98 Wesser, NC

11.6 miles (134.3 total)

Where to begin? Last night the four of us crashed about 7 o’clock. Then about 8:30 in the dark and rain came four more thru-hikers. We were able to squeeze three more into the shelter and Ol’Crawdad slept in his bivy. Suzanne, Eternal Optimist, and Moans-and-Groans had just done a 30-mile slackpack. Besides disrupting the whole shelter, it was also Suzanne’s 30th birthday and they had brought a small cake and a bottle of wine. Needless to say, they sang her a quick "Happy Birthday" and then got to bed.

We were really packed in like sardines with every available inch of floor space taken up by a body. In the middle of the night a bunch of us were woken up by the loud gnawing sound. The sound was up in the rafters and not in our food bags! Sounded like one mouse chewing his way through one of the timbers. This was only my second might in a shelter and I have vowed to make it my last if I can. You’re just at the mercy of your shelter mates. As soon as was reasonable, I changed and started packing about 7 AM. I just wanted to make sure I got a bunk at the Nantahala Outdoor Center.

Mountain Man looks pretty sleepy while
Spirit looks for some attention from Mighty Wind

I made great time, getting to Wesser Bald Shelter about 10:30 with Bjorn in residence. Even after being warned about him, I wasn’t prepared. He’s this 280-pound mammoth of a mountain man who could be a teacher-philosopher except for the fact that he’s nuts! I guess since he knew I wasn’t staying he had to give his viewpoint in a condensed version. I knew he was quoting someone else’s poetry about nature, but he was speaking it like it was his own. It was like I couldn’t leave, he just kept talking.

After that shelter I just made like a freight-train. It seemed that when I was on a ridgeline, it was pretty dry. But when you went low, the rain started coming down. I literally took my life into my hands today. The muddy trail was treacherous. I’m surprised more people aren’t killed. I wish I could have taken pictures that could show you the danger. The last three or four miles were in a torrential downpour, but luckily, the temperature was not bad.

I finally caught sight of the road about 1 o’clock. What a relief! Shower and a dry bunk. So right now, I’m sitting in River’s End Restaurant overlooking the Nantahala River (occasional kayaks float by). Will do a little shopping and be back here at dinner.