April 15, 1998

4/15/98 Abingdon Gap Shelter

23.1 miles (442.5 total)

It didn’t rain last night but the fog was thick this morning. The big difference between now and the fog break in Georgia was that it’s a lot warmer now. Still thought it might rain though. I needn’t have worried. By noon the sun and clouds were playing tag again. The hike was pretty usual, up-down-up, twist-and-turn. Passed one shelter and headed for the next.

Arrived at Double Springs shelter to find Chopper & Lightfoot and Straight Away cooking lunch. Soon Junebug got there. This guy, who looks to be in his 60’s, left 3-weeks after I did. He doesn’t walk fast but he walks mega-hours. But he doesn’t usually get to the shelter until after 8pm. He’s done the Bike Across America and the Paris-Brest-Paris long distance ride (~450 miles). But he’s never been camping before. Ol’Crawdad got there to reload his carbo’s because he’s doing a 33-miler into Damascus. Then Berough, a southbounder, showed up. He’d gotten giardia, then was laid up in the hospital when he started pissing blood. Turned out he had four kidney stones. Took 2½ months of recuperation but now he’s back on the trail.

Finally, I decided to head on. I really wasn’t planning on going 23-miles to the next shelter, but I wanted to be closer to Damascus. So at 4 PM I started out. Because I’d cooked and eaten dinner and got my feet out of the boots, I was feeling pretty fresh. I seemed to be moving pretty fast. I blew by Junebug and then Chopper & Lightfoot. I kept checking my data book and couldn’t believe my pace. There was a spring about 4-miles from the shelter but it wasn’t even 6 PM. So I decided to go for it - all 23 miles.

Sailed into camp before 7 PM, but my feet are tired. At one point, I seemed to be racing a thunderstorm one ridge over. I could hear it and was afraid it was headed my way. But it never crossed the ridge, thank the goddess for big favors. The shelter camp is crowded with section hikers, not a bad bunch, they offered us some leftovers and cognac. There are also some women section hikers but they're on the far side of camp. Tomorrow Straight Away and I hope to get an early start.