March 7, 1998

3/7/98 Whitley Gap Shelter

6.2 miles (36.9 total)

Originally, I had planned on doing a short day, hiking to a campsite about a mile past the Walasi-Yi Center. But while Prince of Darkness, Monkey Boy, and Duke were finishing up their laundry, they talked me into hiking with them to Whitley Gap Shelter, a little over six miles away. We didn’t leave the Center until after two o’clock in the afternoon, which meant we would have to really hoof it to make it before dark. It had been raining hard all morning, but that afternoon, it had let up just a bit. Their enthusiasm was infections, so I said yes and we took off.

We made pretty good time until the last climb. We decided that we need to petition the ATC to rename it 'Prince-of-Darkness Mountain.' It was a real kick-butt climb but only a mile long. By the time we reached the side trail to the shelter, the rain was coming down harder and it was getting late. Duke has been lagging behind a lot because of severe knee problems he’d been having. You could tell from the mud on his longjohns, that he’d fallen several times. 'It just give’s out sometimes,' he said. Duke asked for a flashlight, so we could go on without him.

I was getting worried, so I almost ran the 1.2 mile approach trail to the shelter. Because I was the first one to the shelter, I dumped my backpack, then ran back up the trail to help carry some of Duke’s gear. Compared to the shelters I’d seen, this one didn’t lift my spirits at all. The shelter opening faced the wind, so the entire floor was drenched. The guys shared a 3-man tent they could set up 'inside' the shelter, so I pitched mine nearby in the driving rain. I was tired, soaked, hungry, and miserable. After changing into some dry clothes, I skipped dinner and fell asleep by 7:00 o’clock.