Winter Appalachian Trail – Day 32 (28 miles)
Last night got colder than I expected, dipping down to just above 10F (-10C). At some point I pulled my Balaclava over my eyes to keep my face warm and this caused me to sleep in a little past my normal wake up call of the sun rising.
I woke at 7.30, packed up from cowboy camping as quickly as possible and then walked the couple of miles to the interstate and a restaurant. I took the opportunity to have a hot breakfast, or maybe two breakfasts before I was somewhat full. Between hiking and the cold weather it is hard to get enough calories.
I got going a couple of hours later and it was warm outside! I mean above freezing. The forecast predicts that it will stay warm with no storms for the next few days. Yay!
Once across the highway and I was back hiking. I cannot believe how enjoyable clear blue skies are in winter.
As a direct opposite of yesterday, hiking was easy and fun. Infact today might be the flattest and lest rocky bit of trail to date. I just cruzed all day with my brain switched off, daydreaming the day away.
It was also amazing how quickly the snow melts. Yesterday I had sections with 4 inches and by the time I got to camp the only light snow remained on the northern slopes.
Animal also came out to play, I saw 8 deer, squirrels, birds and even elusive humans. I had not seen a sign of a person on trail for almost 200 miles but saw footprints of a few and even had camped with a couple.
The day passed quickly. I spent most of it on two long and flat ridgelines with the last third making my way up a long valley. b
Before I knew it the sun was setting and I was 1.5 miles from my planned shelter.
As I approached I could smell a fire. Someone to camp with? Someone to talk too? It turned out to be a guy I met way back in the Smokies. Probably the best description of him is a drifter. He jumps up and down the trail, hikes a bit and works in the hostels or busks as he goes.
I stayed up for an hour talking around the fire before jumping into bed.