Monday, 4/20

AT Miles = 18.4 / /406.6
Other Miles = 0.3 / 17.7
Total Miles = 18.7 / 424.3

Look! I've passed the 400 mile mark!

Lately whenever I have slept indoors I inevitably wake up at 3:00 or 4:00 am and find it impossible to get back to sleep. Well, not last night. I slept the sleep of the innocent and woke up a few minutes after 7:00. After a quick shower I went downstairs and was greeted by an absolutely huge breakfast. There were only two of us eating breakfast, yet the table was laden with platters and pans of food. Eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits and gravy (which I love, by the way), home-made cinnamon rolls, cantaloupe, strawberries, kiwi, some kind of little chocolate cakes with cherries on them, orange juice, coffee, tea, and probably something else I've forgotten. We ate and chatted and ate some more, for about an hour and a half. Finally, I had to break away and go back upstairs and get my gear packed.

It was about 9:30 when I finally set off up the hill back to where the AT crossed the road. The trail had a very different feel today. For now no more big mountains and remote terrain. Today the trail wended its way through semi-rural country. It was a pleasant change, and gave my legs a bit of a rest since there were fewer and easier grades to climb and descend. The day started out warm and humid, and being at a lower elevation spring was further along here. The trail climbed through some old meadows starting to grow back to forest, and the grass was a vibrant green with the first dandelions making an appearance.

Sometime this morning I crossed from Tennessee into North Carolina for the last time. I was back in North Carolina for only a tenth of a mile or so, then it was back into Tennessee where I will stay until I reach Virginia at the end of the week. Goodbye North Carolina. That makes two states down now, with 12 to go.

I reached Mountaineer Shelter about 8 or 9 miles into the day, a few minutes before 1:00. I stopped here to eat lunch since the skies were clouding up and I was hit with a few quick showers. A few minutes after I stopped CupAJoe and Duct Tape showed up, and then OG. CupAJoe and Duct Tape are a young couple from Maine, and we have been hiking on more or less the same schedule since back in the Smokies. OG I met for the first time today. He had been ahead of me but had taken a couple of days off with a friend and had just returned to the trail this morning.

This afternoon the wind picked up and dark clouds started moving in. As I hiked a series of rain showers went over, each a bit heavier and lonmger lasting than the previous. In between the sun did shine, but less and less.

It was a fairly long day at nearly 19 miles, and I didn't reach tonight's destination at the Moreland Gap Shelter until a quarter after five. The sign at the shelter, just like the signs at all the shelters in this area, said the watedr source was 50 yards away. I don't know what they use to measure distance around here, but back home I think this 50 yards would have measured out to at least a quarter of a mile! It took me 15 minutes to walk down to the water, fill my 2 1/2 liter botle, and walk back up to the shslter.

Just about this time CupAJoe, Duct Tape, and OG all showed up. A few minutes later it started to rain, so I waited out the rain under the roof of the shelter, then during a lull I set my hammock up for the night. The temperature was dropping fast and I put on nearly all of my clothes, including both my down liner jacket and my heavy down jacket.

I've been continually sholcked by the amount of litter and graffiti at the shelters hereabouts. I am SO glad I am not sleeping in the shelters. I took a picture of this one so you can see what I'm talking about whenever I get the photos uploaded.

It will be early to bed tonight, due to the cold. More tomorrow…

Allen Freeman