Winter Appalachian Trail – Day 52 (35 miles)
I woke up at 6am and started walking just as the first rays of sunlight lit up the sky. The sunrise turned into a beautiful blood red as I made my way along the final 3 miles of ridgeline in the Shenandoah NP.
It was then time to descend out of the higher mountains and start crossing the lower mid atlantic section of the trail. I was also hoping to leave behind the icy trail that has been constantly present for the last few days.
Alus, Murphy’s Law will bite you in the arse with such thoughts of a ice free trail. It did improve on the southern slopes, but the more sheltered northern faces were iced up and far steeper than what I faced in the NP. So my day turned into the repetitive act of walking up the hill, put cleats on to walk down the hill just to take them off again.
However, the weather was warm and just a genuinely nice winter day. So I really had very little to complain about.
Getting out of the NP also meant saying goodbye to grand views across the open countryside as the trail reverted back to its normal characteristics of steep climbs and a need to pay attention to what I am stepping on.
Foremost on my mind was tomorrow’s storm that is predicted to drop a lot of rain. One forecast mentioned 3 inches and another 4 inches in 18 hours. I was a bit worried with this amount of rain and decided to live up to yesterday’s rule (make the most of good weather) and walk as far as I could.
I simply walked all day at a steady pace, only stopping when I needed to change my cleats.
About halfway through the day I got bored and resorted to an audiobook that brought me into the battle for Arrakis and control of the spice, Melange. Dune has to be my favorite story.
Listening to the book made the rest of the day pass quickly and before I knew it the sun was setting and I was only a mile from the shelter that I will be spending a night in.
I was glad to see that it was a well protected shelter with the upcoming storm.
I set up my sleeping system and drifted off to sleep thinking about hiking the notorious roller coaster feature of the trail in torrential rain tomorrow.