May 19, 1998

5/19/98 Bearfence Mountain Hut

20.9 miles (890.5 total)

Because we were planning a 20 miler in this heat, we were up at the crack of dawn. Veto and I left by 7am. Again, the trail still goes up and down, but its pretty easy. Saw several rabbits this morning.

About a mile before the first shelter, I found Veto, Smiley and Moondaddie talking to Mark Jewel, trail angel extraordinaire. He had a few cokes, pretzels and brownies. He’s working interviewing hikers for the park service and would have had more goodies but today is his day off. He’s going to slack those guys and says to stop by his cabin tomorrow if we get a chance.

Some days it was just a joy to be ambling down the trail

Cooked dinner (for lunch) at Hightop Hut and will probably just snack tonight. It was hard to eat the whole thing. Now, just 12 more miles to go today.

The afternoon proved to be harder than expected because of the heat and a long steady incline. One of my few thoughts centered on a pint of ice cream that I was going to buy at the camp store. I’m not sure if its that we are getting numb to the views we see from the mountains, or if the heat, moisture and pollution take all the luster away.

Stopped at the picnic area for the chance to rest my feet and to practice the penny whistle. As I got back on the trail, Piper joined me for the last stretch. We talked about this and that, but we got excited talking about our future trips - me, my bike trips along the Pacific coast and of Europe, and Piper about a motorcycle trip to discover the west.

We arrived at the camp store about 6:30, an hour after it closed. Veto walked towards us, sack in hand. "I got there just in time to buy a six pack and some chips." The three of us then headed the mile further down the trail to the shelter. As we got there, a group already in the shelter began packing up so we could have the shelter to ourselves. We told them we had plenty of room but they said they didn’t mind tenting.

With the gang

The deer at this shelter are even more unafraid of us . Ghandi was able to get within arms reach to take a picture. Decided to eat another dinner to go with one of Veto’s beers. Afterward I was just too tired to do much of anything. As I read a little, Moondaddie told me to look outside. Near the fire pit was a raccoon looking for any food we’d dropped.

Ghandi gets up close and personal