Day 17 – Real Rain

Last night my headlamp got progressively dimmer as I neared the No Business Knob shelter. This is alarming as it is one of my most useful and important pieces of gear. I was 7 miles out of Erwin Tennessee so I decided it was worth getting up early and heading in to town to pick up new batteries and see if those fix my headlamp. I just changed the batteries in it, so unless it was a bad batch I put in, the only logical explanation for a poor performing headlamp is the actual headlamp. Even so I wanted to make one last attempt at reviving it. To get to town early I got up before most people in the world do and started the long climb down to the road in to Erwin. It went by relatively fast and as I do when night hiking I put my headphones and and let the music push me through the miles. Before I knew it I hit the road and was walking along it into town and was suddenly surprised by the section hiker I stayed in the shelter just out of Hot Springs, North Carolina. It was good to see him and his dog. He was in his car and gave me a ride the three miles to town where I could get some food and batteries and of course a few more snacks. I told him not to wait for me since he was headed back out to the trail as well. Getting a ride back proved very difficult but I eventually got one with a guy who works and helps veterans get out on the trail to get over PTSD. Another seemingly stand up guy. I got a ride back to the trail and began the climb back up into the mountains. After 3 miles the rain came and slowly picked up. By the time I hit the shelter that was 4.5 miles in it was a torrential downpour. There were sheets of rain coming down. I cut my losses and spent time in the shelter catching up on some writing and waiting for the worst of the storm to pass. After over an hour I decided it was time to get moving again. The cinched up my rain rain gear and ventured on. As I neared 5000 feet between the melting snow and the intense rain, the trail had turned into a foot deep stream. I tried as best I could to work on my rock hopping and avoid the brunt of the water but it was no use. My feet were soaked and so was I. As I descended I finally came to a shelter and met Indiana Jones and Yoda. They were all settled in to the shelter and I would have called it a day but it was only 23 miles in and I still felt like walking. As I walked in and the darkness came the eerie clouds also rolled in. I was once again walking in a horror story like fog. It was especially haunting when I turned all lights off and let the scene and fog consume me. I ended up at a shelter after about 32 miles where the only spot left to sleep is where the roof is leaking. Time to be innovative once again.