April 4, 1998

4/4/98 Jerry Cabin Shelter

15.4 miles (296.8 total)

ARRRrrrgh! What a fun afternoon! But let me start at the beginning. The storm was pretty uneventful, the tent held up fine. Before I left, the "Gatlinburg Gang" had decided to walk to the road and get a taxi back to Hot Springs. I wonder if the Townsman (aka JohnEB) will ever finish the trail. Skeeter on the other hand is going home. This is not "his kind of party." Bevo and I left before 8:00 AM. EWOS and the section hikers were barely up when I started walking north in the rain.

Lots of rain on the trail,
guess I should get used to it

A couple of hours later, I found the highway and spotted a little sign that pointed me to the State Line Gas. I got there just as they were opening. A mother and her daughter, who were using a bucket of coal in the pot-belly stove to heat the place up. Both inside and out, they probably haven’t changed the place since the 50’s. Bought a candy bar, a V-8 and a Coke to go. The rain had stopped but it was still pretty cool. The next couple of miles of trail had some massive blowdowns. I literally got lost going around one of them. The fog and mist continued all morning. On the Tennessee side of the ridge, the wind blew hard but on the North Carolina side the air was calm. I didn’t take much of a break at the Little Laurel Shelter. I decided to push hard to what I though would be a great shelter.

The Jerry Cabin Shelter is complete with electricity, a phone and a caretaker (at least the guidebook states "Be sure to turn off the light when you leave and keep telephone calls brief!"). That six mile stretch between the shelters is some of the nastiest trail I’ve ever walked. A large section could only be completed by playing hopscotch from rock to rock to avoid the foot deep water and mud, while rhododendron stopped you from going along the edge. I was soaked, the rain continued on and off the whole way to the shelter. The only comfort was what I thought were Bevo’s foot prints in front of me. It let me know I wasn’t the only idiot on the trail today.

You can just imagine my surprise when I reached the shelter, to find not Bevo, but Curious George and Ghandi. Plus I looked around at the ordinary shelter with light and phone installed as a joke. Not funny on a day like this. Curious George is hiking to Damascus to get ready for the PCT in May. He is by far the most neurotic annoying person I have ever met, bar none. I’m cold, wet, hungry and I don’t even have my pack off and he wants to know my favorite book. I had very little patience for him as I tried to set up camp. Luckily for me, he decided to pack up and head to the next shelter. (Ghandi almost talked him out of it.) EWOS showed up and we both made a quick dinner, changed into dry clothes and got into our sleeping bags. All three of us talked awhile. I really like both of them.

Bevo never showed up and I’m a little worried about him. (I later found out when he reached the highway, he went home. Thru-hiking in the rain wasn’t what he had in mind.)