March 8, 1998

3/8/98 Blue Mountain Shelter

11.6 miles (48.5 total)

This morning it was still raining, but looked like it might let up. We started out in good spirits but the big question was Duke’s knee. We made it to Low Gap Shelter, about 5½ miles, without much problem and decided to head on to Blue Mountain Shelter. The profile map looked relatively flat.

At least it wasn't raining

The weather continued to get be better and a huge section of the trail followed an old logging road. That meant a nice, easy up-hill grade. We passed waterfalls too numerous to count. Some went under forest road through stone culverts, but a lot just cut across the top. The terrain here is so steep, it’s hard to decide if something is a creek or a waterfall. We’ve all remarked at how one slip and you would have a hell of a fall unless you hit a tree or a rock on the way down.

While maintenance of the trail looks like a hard task, the building of the trail seems almost impossible. At places, it’s carved directly out of the cliff walls.

The weather continued to get better. At one point, we were in short sleeves and thinking about stripping to shorts because it was so hot and humid. We began to see our first views of the countryside, most of which has been covered up by fog.

Funny thing about the trail is that no matter how easy the trail is, that last mile to the shelter seems like a killer. As we got closer to Blue Mountain Shelter, the terrain had a northwest feel, lots of moss, ferns, and wet rock. I envy anyone who can get over these sections unharmed.

All day we had only seen two sets of boot prints in the muddy trail ahead of us. So we were a little surprised to find a full shelter. In residence were Biz, April Moon, John Galliger, Swamp Fox, Disco, and Nut. After spending last night in the rain, we were looking forward to a dry shelter. Needless to say, I’m getting pretty good at setting up the tent in the rain. The shelter had a very short overhang, so they had tried to rig up tarps to cover the front, and block some of wind and rain. I think I stayed dryer in my tent.

After get my tent up, my gear inside and getting water from a nearby spring, the gang in the shelter made room for us to cook our dinner. They were a fun group of people. Biz was traveling with her two dogs, that barked at us from underneath the shelter. John was hiking a couple of weeks with April Moon. I knew her from the AT98 email list also. Disco and Nut were traveling together, while Swamp Fox thruhiked in ’93. Even though I couldn’t eat the whole thing, my first pot of dehydrated spaghetti sauce was very good. I didn’t have any trouble finding someone to finish it off. Nut was complaining about their expensive freeze-dried dinner. He called the meal "Katman-do-do" because it reminded him of cat puke.

Even though I still had wet clothes on, my belly was full, and it felt good to be crowded into the shelter with these new friends. John had a weather radio which said severe thunderstorms were headed our way. I’m sure that this shelter has a great view, but with this bad weather, I felt we were kind of exposed. I said my "good-nights," and headed off to bed. As I lay there trying to fall asleep during the storm, I thought the tent poles were going to break. The wind roared from several directions, beating on the tents with hard gusts of wind. I prayed all night that my tent would survive the storm.