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Hit a dry spell - Part 2

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When you last heard from me, I was Johns Spring Shelter, having seen a bear but not one place to get a drop of water. No surprise that I abandoned the idea of washing myself and my clothes; instead I resolved to get water the next day. Since I was the only there as it began to get dark, I planned on a quiet night under this roof.

Then "Uncle," "Nephew," and "Niece" (U-N-N, for short) arrived.
I like telling the truth -- and the WHOLE truth -- in my blog, but I realize that part of this account may be embarassing to these people. Since I never asked permission to identify them in this blog, I'll just use these words as their "names."
Uncle did a thru-hike over fifteen years ago, and has more good stories than I can ever hope to have. Nephew has done about 150 miles on the A.T. Niece was out on her first backpack trip; maybe even her first experience backcountry camping.
When we weren't sharing "war stories" about our times on The Trail, Uncle and I passed on advice to N & N, mostly with the hope that Niece would calm down. She worried about bears, getting to the outhouse at night, mice getting her food, changing her clothes the next morning -- in short, she was a typical newbie. When it got truly dark, we all agreed to just shut off the talk.
Within an hour it started to drizzle.
"Uncle, is that rain?", Niece asked, with a nervous voice. I fervently hoped that no branches would fall on the shelter roof during this rain, as I know from experience that falling branches sound like anvils when they hit. Somehow, we all got to sleep.

As is typical for me, I awoke at 5:30a to the sound of my watch alarm. I began to pack up my gear in the dark (I've taught myself how), as quietly as I could, and left just as U-N-N were getting ready to depart.
No surprise: they passed me before I got too far.

It wasn't a shock to find no water at Johns Spring Shelter, as The Companion refers to its water source as "unreliable." What was more of a disappointment was finding the spring at Catawba Mountain Shelter to be completely bone dry -- not so much as a drop. It was beginning to look like I would have to climb over and beyond McAfee Knob, all the way to Campbell Shelter, in order to get my first drink. Certainly do-able, but not a pleasant thought.
I then ran into U-N-N, just standing on The Trail. Turns out they were at a small, somewhat silty, puddle; trying to decide what to do. They had tablets for purifying water, but these require 30 minutes to fully do their job, and don't remove silt. Worse, simply filling up a small bottle in this puddle was going to stir up the silt Uncle knew he wanted to avoid.
In a blessed overlap of our mutual need and my gear, I got out my Katadyne Filter and, with all of us doing a part, we got plenty of water for all us. One of us pumped, one of us held the water container, one of us held the pre-filter at the top of the puddle, in order to minimize silt intake. Could I have done this by myself? PROBABLY, but I'm glad I had several other hands to help.

McAfee Knob is famous as a great overlook; and today, with clear skies and bright, mid-morning sunshine, viewing could hardly have been better. I enjoyed taking photos of people taking photos of people at the ledge, and wished there was some way I could have captured the width and depth of this view. Sometimes a camera just isn't adequate for the task.
U-N-N were taking a break here, but I left before they did.
No surprise; they passed me before I got too far.
When I got to Campbell Shelter -- over eight miles from the last time I walked past a real water source -- there was NO WAY I was going to skip getting water there.

U-N-N was taking a break there and, after I filled my water container to the top, I left before they did.
No surprise; they passed me before I got too far -- three times in one day!
However, about ten minutes after they passed me, N & N were coming back to the Campbell Shelter.
"Forgot something?", I asked.
Sadly, Niece had almost collapsed from fatigue, and simply could not continue. As I noted to them, some people like stamp collecting, some people like crossword puzzles, and some people like backpacking. Niece just isn't one of the latter. No disgrace in that, I said, different people have different hobbies.

I got to Lambert Meadow Shelter by 6pm, and found enough water to (1) fill up my container, (2) wash myself down, (3) wash my shirt, and even (4) shave. I had to make a few trips to the stream to do all this, but I felt MUCH better after having done so. I left just before 8p, figuring it wouldn't take long to get to the tent site for this area.
And it didn't. Although my Guthook guide said that it's a mere 0.3 mile from the shelter to the camp area, I came across a bridge to a flat area in about five minutes. I knew I hadn't gone 0.3 mile in that amount of time, but there WAS a bridge going to what is clearly a camping area. So I just stopped there for the night.

The next morning featured a bizarre sight
some great views along Tinker Ridge, and a pretty easy hike down to Daleville.
I also passed two people on The Trail, something that (pretty much) NEVER happens -- my unofficial trail nickname is "Snail's Pace." I'm not sure if I'm going to count either of them as people I have "passed," as one of them had, like Niece, found out that she couldn't handle backpacking. I gave this woman the same "No disgrace" talk I gave to Niece.

I got back to my car by mid-afternoon, and got home at almost the exact hour I predicted when I left Daleville.

Once again, I had a multi-day trek with no mud, no forgetting of my pole, only one fall, very few insect bites, and no pain in my shoulder or knee. Family responsibilities will keep me off The Trail for at least a week, but I'm hoping to soon reach a total of over 1092 miles -- ie, an "official" half-way-there hiker.