Cold Springs Shelter

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May 22, Sunday (2032 miles to go) From Gonzo!s Appalachian Trail journal

Today we set a new record. We were up at 5:51 am! Why, I don't know. Perhaps it was because it is natural to get up at that time on the trail, or perhaps it was because our beds leave a lot to be desired. I had learned from my first trip that sleeping on an ensolite pad that measured in with a thickness of less than one half of an inch provided only minimal comfort. On this trip I had upgraded to a custom made backpacking pad that I had designed out of a high density, two inch thick open cell foam pad covered with waterproof nylon sewn to just fit the foam inside. It provided the ultimate in trail comfort, but being only three quarter length and only padding the area from my head down to my rear end, was not exactly like sleeping at the Hilton. But for the comfort it provided I was thankful. I found that no matter what I used, I still usually woke up many times during the night shifting from one side to the other, as my lower back or either hipbone would become sore. I finally concluded that the biggest problem was that I was too flat. After realizing this, I began using my extra clothes and boots to construct a makeshift "ramp" or slight incline that gave me a little bit more relief. I also carried a contoured pillow that I had made out of the same coated nylon material as the pad that featured a slight depression in the middle to cradle my head and neck. It was stuffed with lightweight Dacron for the padding.

At least this morning it was not raining……yet. I decided to employ my lightweight boots this morning due to the uncomfortable feeling I had worked up yesterday on the balls of my feet. This might help my feet, but added weight to the backpack since the old boots weighed more than the lightweight ones. Oh well... We left Tom while he slept, and headed down the mountain. I knew we had a long day planned for today, but did not realize just how long. In general, it rained on and off all day long, sometimes coming down hard enough to soak a person through to the bone in just a few seconds.

We crossed Us 64 in Wallace gap where many hikers have chosen to hitch into the town of Franklin, North Carolina. I still have not been to Franklin, I have never seen the need to attempt the long hitch to a town so far off the trail. Starve a little, or bring more food, but don't take the time to go that far out of your way I say. If the town is more than a couple of miles off the trail, I usually pass it up.

It was a long climb up Siler Bald, a 5,216 feet tall mountain named for William Siler, whose great-grandson, the Reverend A. Rufus Morgan, helped establish the A.T. in North Carolina. We stopped for lunch around 1:30 pm at Wayah Gap after about ten miles. Seems as though we can only manage to clip off a pace of around two miles per hour or less in these southern Appalachians. On the way up Wine Spring Bald, we encountered a father and son hunting for something on the side of the mountain just off the trail. I figured it was either mushrooms or ramps. I stopped to talk with them and found out that they were in search of ramps, that traditional spring delight that is popular enough to have one town that hosts a Ramp Festival. A ramp is a relative of the garlic plant, and grows wild in the southern mountains. The man showed me what one looks like and I found about three of them that I packed away for consumption with tonight's dinner. By the time we topped out on the summit of Wayah Bald, the time was already 4:30 pm and we still had six miles to go to our destination, Cold Springs Shelter. We took a short breather at the observation pavilion on the summit that reminded me of a castle, having been built mainly out of stone. A sense of urgency to get moving came over us. We started truckin' and so did the rain! The trail ran like a stream on the way down the mountain as we trudged through the muck and mire created by so much water. As we crossed a number of streams and descended through ferns and rhododendron to Burningtown Gap, we paused to consult the guide and found that we had another mile to go to the shelter. It seems as though the more you want to get to a destination, the longer it takes to arrive. We thought we should have been there by now, and grudgingly set out for the last mile and three tenths to the shelter in the rain. It was 7:30 by the time we arrived at Cold Springs Shelter, a rustic log cabin looking shelter that even had a picnic table out front. First thing on the agenda was making supper, which consisted of Sour Cream and Chives flavored Noodles and Sauce, helped out by the three ramp bulbs added to the mixture. Supposedly ramps are similar to garlic in that the consumer exudes a garlicy odor from their pores the next day as they sweat. I did not know if the three that we ate between us would be enough for a change in our body odor, which by now must have already been quite ripe since we have not bathed in a week! Dinner was topped off with strawberry pudding.

I saw one of those bright red newts along the trail today. I guess it was damp enough for the amphibian to be out and about. At the shelter there were signs of wildlife also. There was a small hole in the floor just beside my pillow that had evidence of a mouse. I stuffed some trash into the hole to keep the critter from emerging during the night, but that was a mistake. During the night they proceeded to chew on the trash and that annoyed me. I hate that chewing sound! Besides the aches and pains of sleeping on a pine board floor, the sound of mice chewing on anything is one thing that will keep me from sleeping. So I threw out the trash that I had stuffed into the hole and poured some of our valuable white gas for our SVEA 123 stove around the hole hoping the odor would keep them away. It seemed to work and I got a little sleep. 20.1 miles for the day.

Gonzo! Appalachian Trail Journals ©1983
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