The daylight woke me from my tent just before 7AM. I could hear the rushing of the river next to us. I was trying to perceive, based on sound alone, if the water was less intense than yesterday and if it might be crossable. It sounded hopeful. Nonetheless I was slow to get up. It was cold out and the process of rushing to ford a cold water crossing did not sound appealing.
I ate breakfast and realized Purple Pioneer was already up. She did not sleep well and had been reading FarOut comments about the water crossings today. I tried to reassure her the water would be lower today. I also 1/2 joked the longer we waited the lower it would get.
I ate breakfast and got more water from the river. It was indeed nearly a foot lower this morning. The flow had also seemed to abate some. Once we were packed up, I tested the water without my pack. I got nearly all the way across and decided it was a doable crossing so doubled back for my pack. Purple Pioneer was still apprehensive and decided to take a blue blaze around the water instead. It would be backtracking a little for her but I respect her decision. It wasn’t an easy call to make, because she had been purist like me up until this point.
I crossed back with my gear and continued on my way. I would encounter 2 more crossings on the day. Neither was easy, although no more difficult than what I’d already encountered. I took a break for a snack at the first shelter I came across. I ran into Wiki, Feral Goat, Orphan, and Hays who had blue blazed in.
The water crossings the last 2 days were not for the faint of heart and perhaps more dangerous than I’m letting on. I wrote on the shelter log that “I’m still gonna Send It!” In all seriousness, what may appear like reckless abandon or throwing caution to the wind, it actually calculated decision making and self confidence. If I truly felt in danger or like I was incapable of accomplishing something, I would not have attempted those crossing. But simply feeling “uncomfortable” with something is not a reason to not try. Getting out of our comfort zones is where growth happens. It’s why I came to hike the Appalachian Trail to begin with. So if a challenge arises that I have confidence I can conquer, then I’m at least going to try.
I hiked some with Wiki in the afternoon. We got to the top of Barren Mountain and climbed the fire tower at the top (15 in total towers on the AT and likely the last). Shortly thereafter we ran into Purple Pioneer. I was perplexed at how she passed ahead of our present placement. She must had gone by while we were at the shelter (I had doubts if she’d catch up, silly me).
Near Chairback Third Mountain, Feral Goat joined our trio and we hiked on towards Chairback Gap Lean-to. But not before a snack and catching an epic sunset. Purple Pioneer dropped her Sawyer water filter off a sheer rock face. It landing comically perched on a 4-inch moss-covered ledge, saving it from being lost forever. She scrambled down a few to feet to retrieve it.
The last 30 minutes of hiking was in the dark with headlamps on. We got into camp before 8 and found Orphan and Hays, who had already arrived started a fire. After setting up in the shelter we ate dinner and joked around the fire. It was a windy and chilly night up at the relative elevation of the shelter, so I was early into my sleeping bag.
The group likes to play Rose-Bud-Thorn at the end of each day. My rose was enjoying the water crossings, Thorn was the chaffage that ensured after. My bud is looking forward to the last big(ish) hills in the 100 mile wilderness tomorrow.
Until then, stow away in my pack for day 159 on the Appalachian Trail
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