June 10, 2015
“So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned by a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure.”
I got an early start this morning and disembarked camp at 6:15 and reached Allen Gap, 3.7 miles away at 8:00 am. The trail, fog and early morning creatures were pretty. The trail ascended slightly for 4.9 miles until I reached Little Laurel Shelter for a morning snack and water break.
As I was sitting down, Cub appeared on the horizon. “What are you doing?” “Just drinking some water,” I replied. “I don’t carry water.” “Why not,” I questioned. “Don’t need the extra weight, brah. I just drink 2 liters at every stop.” We leapfrogged each other over the next 6.7 miles. Whenever you were resting, there would appear Cub acting excitable. “I think I am going to hike to Morocco!” or “What do you know about the CDT?” — always some tangential idea or question.
Three miles past Little Laurel Shelter is White Rock Cliff and Blackstack Cliffs. Wondrous, open views await. The trail climbs over various rock outcroppings for nearly two miles. There is a blue-blazed, bad weather trail. I would not want to get stuck on this ridge in a thunderstorm, for there is no protection from the elements. The sun was really cooking and the reflection started to bake me.
At 2:30 pm I arrived at Jerry Cabin Shelter for another break. There was a young girl drying out her clothing in the sun and resting. “Hello (insert high pitched laughter).” How are you doing (insert laughter)?” Off in the woods I heard singing. There appeared a shirtless Cub, in his kilt. “There you are brah!” As I took out some food to snack, Cub simultaneously asked, “Can I have some of that, brah?” and reached for it. The girl offered some crackers. “Thanks, Giggles,” Cub responded.
After lunch Cub walked around. Someone had hung a dingy, well-used visor on a shelter nail. I say hung, but a more appropriate word is discarded. As Giggles and I talked, we heard Cub jumping, hollering and dancing. “Look what I found. When I tell people that I am hiking the AT; they look at me funny, but now when I say it and they see this visor, they are going to take me serious!” Even as I left camp, I could hear him yelling with joy. That afternoon there was a steep climb up several hills. My legs were starting to tire, so I stopped to rest. From behind me Cub exploded up the trail. This guy can hike! There was no way I could keep up with him. “Can’t stop now, I’m going to do 31 miles today!” I told him good luck and wished him the best. The last image I had of him, he was shouldering his pack, hunching and sprinting up the mountain.
Less than a mile from Jerry Cabin are two beautiful fields. It was so breathtaking that I wanted to stop and make camp, but there was no water source, so I pressed on. 15 miles from Allen Gap are the Shelton Graves. Apparently Union sympathizers, David Shelton and his nephew William were ambushed and killed by a group of Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. I didn’t know that a lot of people in the mountains in the 19th century were unionists. Since they were poor themselves and had no slaves, they were against the confederacy and succession.
Shortly before the graves, I met Stick, an older gentleman with long grey hair and beard. For the last few miles we talked endlessly about life, manhood, careers, family. He was a former jazz musician and drummer, spending his life traveling the United States and world. He was an incredible guy.
I reached Flint Gap and after a long, final push arrived at Flint Mountain Shelter. I hung around the campfire with Chief High Brow, Stick and Giggles. As I lay in my tent that night I listened to the beautiful sound of thunder in the distance.
Total mileage is 21.3 miles.