I woke up to start to break camp and decided not to make a hot meal this a.m., it takes too much time coupled with breaking down camp. I really wanted to get to our next shelter before any rain started. I am not craving oatmeal anyway, however I have been enjoying hot cocoa more than ever. But since I had some last night before bed I was set on Gatorade and a cliff bar this a.m. I as always pack a lot of snacks in my pockets for the hike because I find the only way for me to get from point A to point B is lots and lots of fuel. It is crazy how much my appetite is changing. Typically a long distance hiker burns 4,000 - 6, 000 calories a day. I think my body is just trying to adjust to all the healing and muscle building it is doing. It is important to also make sure you eat the right combinations of foods when hiking too. So my diet which is normally very healthy and almost always avoidant of processed foods is now completely changed. This has also taken a little time for my stomach to adjust. Pasta, noodles, protein bars, powdered milk, pepperoni, whole bars of cheese, snickers bars and tuna were not an every day occurrence like the are now. I stay hydrated by keeping extra Gatorade powder and juice powder for my water bladder, this also keeps my sugar levels where I want them and keeps me s a happy hiker. :)
Beef Jerky Pie is always fast a breaking down camp. I sometimes wish I had a UL1 (one person tent over a two) but it pays off in other ways. It is quite roomy and has two side vestibules that keeps gear dry and gives lots of space for shoes, etc; it also has lots of pockets inside and has enough head room for three adults, possibly four to sit upright and play cards if need be on a rainy day. However, it is my sleeping bag that takes the most time, but it is my prized possession of comfort out here. It is a zero degree down amazing fluffy comforter of sorts. I am sleeping in pure comfort here, between it and my NeoAir and my Pillow and silk liner that I use as a pillow case. I am not roughing it as much as I appear to be.
We let the gang know we were headed off and would meet them there, as we were anxious to get moving. This was again an easy hike, we flew and were in the next camp before noon. It was only 7 or so miles, we just kept passing people. We could have continued on but that would have meant going into town or the next shelter which would make for no resupply and the next section is much longer and we needed at least four days of food. So between that and the weather we decided just to stay at the shelter and go into town the next day. We are close to Hiawasee and Helen and Uniquoi Gap is only two miles away. Less than an hours walk.
|Blue Mountain shelter with Hitch and Beef Jerky Pie (Too Long)|
|Hot Spitz getting some dinner out|
|Beef Jerky Pie and Buckaroo, setting up in the shelter|
|Remedy making dinner|
|Ashley far right|
|from left, O, Chilisauce, Hiker tea, Shepherd, Peep Show, Hitch|
|Looking out of the shelter toward the camp and bear bags, another full weekend camping spot|
|hiker class with Remedy :)|
The shelter was beautiful and up on the mountain side, the downer is that it was built facing the wind and it was windy. Gusts up to 20 mph. I checked the weather and we are looking at rain starting about 7 and 2.5 - 4 inches are called for with temps dipping into the mid 30's. Rain is always tricky whenever it is below 50 degrees hypothermia can set in fast. I learned one rule of backpacking was to always keep one pair of dry clothes in a bag inside my, just for that reason. It came in handy this night.
We had a great fire and a nice group again, as the day went on we had more and more people show up. The shelter was full early, it was myself, Beef Jerky Pie, Buckaroo, Murray, O, T-Bird, Doggle and his dog Kimber. Remedy came and decided to sleep under the roof on the ground just below us. We cooked sat at the campfire and talked and shared stories. Remedy taught us a bit about reading handwriting. It was quite fun and interesting. We sat and made a little cooking section next to the fire so that all of us could cook. There I met a hiker who hadn't had a name yet, but had left overs all stuck in his stache, I called him chilisauce. You meet lots of hikers, they come and go and only some you see every night, those are the ones you bond most with. Except for this night, I bonded quickly with some new hikers this night because it wasn't a normal night. I am very glad they were there and that they were such a great group of guys. Dinner was good and it was getting cold fast I hurried and made some hot cocoa bc I couldn't shake a chill I had. Finally after getting more water which was a little 1mile hike there and back I was warm. This is when it is time to get in your bag while your warm and let your body heat be retained by your bag. So we did just that after dinner was clean, teeth brushed and of our things that have scent to them hung up in our bear bags.
I again had some trouble falling a sleep the rain had started and the winds whipping, I snuggled in my bag with my iPod (thx MEEMS) and played some tunes and soon I was off. about 4:40 a.m. I heard some chatter in whispers and movement under the roof of the shelter. The shelter roof being extended made for a nice cover over a table used for cooking with bench seating. I saw some hikers talking, looked like they were maybe getting settled under cover from the rain before moving on. No big deal, closed my eyes again only to realize what was muffled now I heard sounded like voices consoling and caring for ill friends in some distress. I turned again to now see clearly a boy shivering, friends shivering, all wet and them trying to feed the worst of all a boy named Will. I without much thought and loudly asked is he soaked to the core? They replied yes we all are. I said Ok, everything wet must come off right NOW! With urgency and told them they were suffering from hypothermia and must do what I ask quickly because their friend was clearly in shock already. They acted quick and T-bird, Murray and O woke up. T bird firing up his stove to make hot warm juice for the boys all who were between 16-18. Beef Jerky Pie and Remedy now awake too all helped me to get the boys warm and settled. We pulled together as much dry clothing as we could. I gave up my hat, gloves, socks, a down jacket, Murray gave an emergency blanket (these things are amazing always carry one even on day hikes) and T-bird a down coat, Buckaroo now awake gave up his sleeping bag, Beef Jerky Pie and Remedy also finding odds and ends of clothing to give to the boys. By the time we were done with them they were a hodge podge of hiker trash clothing, but now dry. Next I asked them to make a cuddle train. Literally we put O in the back (this guy is awesome) without hesitation he sat at the back and held his chest on to the back of Will who was now wrapped in head to toe warmth. I had each subsequent boy get in front of the other with arms wrapped around the chest of the other and legs around the waist of the other. NO I didn't find this in some book, I made it up, but hey it worked. Beef Jerky and Remedy came in and I asked them to cuddle Will on the sides of him and the rest of the cuddle train. T-bird kept up the supply of warm juice until each boy as warm and dry and out of danger. This was team work, this is what hikers do, I was so proud of everyone for coming together in such a scary time. By the time it was over the sun was up, the boys were laughing and they pulled out some Summer Sausage to share with us. They had us laughing at their stories and trials over night and promised to get better gear and never attempt open tarp tenting in so much rain again. Before they headed off I made a contraption of sorts for the two worst off Will and Shawn. It was the emergency blanket cut in half with a whole for each boys head. Imagine if you will and emergency bib that covers the heart. Then we had them place a garbage bag (given by Shepherd) for each to wear over top. Water proof way to insulate the heat. Then Will who was the worst I asked to wear a orange emergency blanket over top as his things were so soaked still. I had him tuck the top into his hat and wrap the rest under his body so his pack would make it stay on him. We sent them off after several hours of warmth, food, warm drinks and instructions. They were to not stop walking until they got to the car, then strip immediately again and get into dry clothes and text us to let us know they were ok.
|Will laughing about my contraption|
|The guys, safe and sound now|
They did just that, I got a text within an hour and a half saying they made it safe, thanks again and to be careful the trail was washed out in places and quite a river. It rained 4 inches overnight and it was wicked cold and we just had the best bonding experience with a group of strangers. Needless to say, it was quite a night.
The rain lessened and we were next to close up camp. Thunderstorms were called to start anytime and we were going to town.