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Dirk's Rambles

Friday, March 19, 2021, 9:20 am

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Wednesday, March 17th was a rough night. It was rainy and windy. A slow steady drip and steady mist was inside my tent all night. My sleeping bag got wet on the outside but stayed dry on the inside, thank God! I woke up at 1 a.m. to something that banged into my tent. My first reaction was "Bear!" So I began yelling "ha! ha!" and turned on my light. After a few minutes I didn't hear anything so I stopped. Eventually I fell back to sleep. When I woke in the morning I saw a big stick laying on top of my tent guy ropes. Felt foolish!! No one staying in the shelter, which was nearby, said anything about hearing me yell in the middle of the night. They were either being polite or didn't hear me yelling because of how hard the rain poured down.

Had to walk 16 miles today to meet our ride. The most miles so far on this trek. Sam Cosgrove, a friend of Vanita and Brett's, is going to pick us up at mile 109 at 5:30 pm. He worked with Vanita at the University of Colorado in Boulder. He recently moved to work at Western North Carolina University.

So I started packing everything at 6:15 am from inside the tent, since it was still raining. Everything was soaked or nearly soaked. And muddy. Packed most everything except the tent and the food bag, which was still hanging from a tree as a precaution for bears. Put my nearly full backpack in the shelter, then took down my food bag. Something had chewed into it while it was hanging 12 feet in the air. There was a 2 inch wide hole. It was probably a squirrel or a mouse.

Took the tent down, then packed all remaining items including the food bag. Ate a Cliff bar, drank the rest of my water, then started down the trail at 7:30. Still hd to use my headlamp to see, because of the late sunrise due to the time change and because of the thick fog.

As I was getting started up the trail, I thought of a piece of advice I got from Grizzly- "Embrace the Suck!" It made me smile to myself and made dealing with being cold and wet alot more pleasant.

So Brad went at least 2 more miles up the trail on Wednesday night. I found out later he actually went over 2.5 miles. So I was hoping to catch him the catching our ride with Sam at 5:30 pm.

It rained steady throughout the morning and started tapering off around 11 am. During the course of the morning, I climbed Albert Mountain (5,450 feet). It was a tough climb. For the last several hundred yards it was more of a rock climb, rather than a hike. Felt almost like I was climbing El Capatain. Okay, so it wasn't quite that sheer but it was definitely difficult!

Finally got to the fire tower at the top but it was too foggy to catch a view. Looked like someone dropped a white sheet over the side. All you could see was white. So I kept on moving. For the next number of miles down off the mountain and beyond, the walking was excellent. No rain and only little wind.

I hit a zone walking and knocked off alot of miles, 5 to be exact. Caught up with Brad at the 11th mile on this leg. We then started hiking together.

At around mile 12 or 13 we came across trail magic in Standing Indian Park. Ben and Cami Crawford, the couple who took their six children on the AT in 2018 were the ones offering the magic. They completed the trail though they were not allowed to take their children to the top of Katahdin because of some arcane rule. They were also challenged along the way in many ways but one in particular seemed ridiculous. Several times someone reported them to CYS for child abuse for putting their children in the wilderness conditions such as freezing temperatures. None of the accusations were ever founded.

They cooked us corn dogs, home made french fries, fried cheese, salad (both fruit and vegetable), coffee, water, beer. They had a fire going to cook/heat the oil, which we also used to warm our hands since we were cold from the rain and wind. We talked to them for 45 minutes, asking them bout their experiences. All their children were there including Rainier, who was a baby when they thru hiked. They were very forthcoming and easy to talk to. They set up their trail magic at a place they thought was especially tough climbing.

Meeting them lifted our spirits. They were inspirational. They are trail royalty and we felt lucky to meet them. We caught them on their third and last day offering their magic.

We were able to meet Sam on time at 5:50. While waiting, a guy gave me a beer. Sam then arrived just as I was finishing it and gave us hot coffee. What a great guy! He drove us to Franklin, where we checked into our hotel, hung our we stuff up to dry, then went to the Mexican Restaurant across the street for dinner. Sam thru hiked the AT in 2014 and we were able to pick his brain. We are lucky to have such support from a guy like him. Thank you, Sam!
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