Today began with a blanket of snow carpeting the trail. For the most part of the day the snow didn’t cause a lot of problems in hiking the trail. It did provide an opportunity to witness some of God’s beautiful artwork, such as this waterfall on the side of the trail.
It is so amazing how quiet the forrest is after a snow and how every bird and critter stands out against the snowy background. It was a very peaceful day as snow fell throughout the day and no one was on the trail. Most hikers got off the trail yesterday and held up in nearby towns. I saw it as an opportunity to take advantage of the solitude so I just kept hiking. The last part of the day was much more difficult as the trail became much more rocky with ice and snow. After three hours of hiking in theye conditions my legs started growing weary. I finally could see the shelter and it couldn’t have come at a better time as it was only 45 minutes before nightfall.
If you are unfamiliar with the trail about every eight miles or so there are shelters along the trail. They are three sided structures with an open front and a wooden floor elevated a couple feet off the ground. You place your pad and sleeping bag on the floor. The front is open so that any creatures such as raccoons, bears or field mice can join you if they get cold! I have never seen a shelter without mice, scurrying overtop your sleeping bag or around your head all night. You get use to them, well, until they want to get warm and crawl into your sleeping bag with you! At that point you reconsider sleeping in shelters and set up your tent somewhere outside the shelter, which is what I normally do. However, tonight I am sleeping in the shelter just to remind myself why I USUALLY don’t sleep in them. Shelters are much colder than tents as tents will capture some of your body heat and tends to keep you a little warmer. There are bear cables at most shelters to store your food and a table for preparing meals.
There is a raccoon out front on our table now. The cables could also be considered raccoon cables. Oh, he has decided to come in out of the wind and join us in the shelter. Oh well, they don’t take up too much room! There are only two of us at the shelter tonight, which is extremely rare. Most nights all of the shelters have been full, even this early in the season. The two movies, “Wild” and “A Walk In The Woods” by Bill Bryson has caused an explosion of through hikers this year, and like me, many are trying to beat the crowds. I began posting some videos on Facebook yesterday of my experiences out here on the trail if you would like to check those out. I sincerely appreciate the encouraging comments so many people are sending. They mean alot. And I also appreciate the continued financial support of the Big Brothers/Big Sisters Program which is one of the purposes of my hike. The program has meant a lot to me over the past twelve years serving as a big brother to a young man who is a senior in high school this year, as an advisory council member and as a local coordinator for the program. I have witnessed life changing moments in kid’s lives that really needed a mentor and a friend. If you have not contributed please consider doing so as it takes resources to keep this worthwhile program going!