Walnut Mountain Shelter, Snowbird Mountain

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May 30, Monday (1904.7 mtg)

Tried to be quiet this morning, but what the heck - let the jet engine roar! It is time for some hot breakfast after our usual 5:50 am wake up call. Packed up and headed out for more downhill toward the Big Pigeon River. Followed a nice cascading stream down to the river, I remembered the stream to be somewhat prettier the first time I journeyed over this section of trail and was a little disappointed at the lack of awe it provided me this time around. Had the trail route changed?

We passed under Interstate 40 at a point where there were on and off ramps and a road under the interstate, and began our climb out of the valley to the summit of Snowbird Mountain. Nearing the top of the mountain, I began to remember that there was an observation tower, and some FAA equipment on the summit as they came into view. We took some photos from this vantage point and then moved on toward Groundhog Creek Shelter for lunch. It was at this shelter, two years ago, that I, and those I was hiking with, awoke during the night and were scared half to death by a tiny little mouse. Saw a lone Grouse with chicks before arriving at the shelter at 11 am after about 12 miles. This left only 10 miles remaining for the afternoon hike. Visited the privy with the upholstered toilet seat and took a long lunch to recooperate from the long morning hike.

After lunch we began climbing again, but were treated to the sight of a snake, and many wildflowers, including a rairly seen Showy Orchid. We stopped for some pictures along the roadwalk that skirted Max Patch Mountain, and then had to stop once again on the same roadwalk a few yards farther along as my pack suddenly lunged to one side after the shoulder strap came undone at its attachment point near the bottom of the pack. One of the rings holding the clevis pin in place had somehow worked itself off sometime earlier, and finally the pin holding it all together came out allowing everything to give way. Worried for a while, I surveyed the damage and found the problem, located the pin in the gravel along the road, and put it back together with the help of a small piece of wire taken from the small spiral bound pocket notepad I was carrying where I haphazardly recorded the pictures I had taken. I uncoiled the wire a little, then bent it back and forth many times until it broke. I then secured the pin with the wire by fashioning it into a circular shape similar to the original. Then we were off again. Of all the things one learns along the trail, the ability to make due with what is provided is one of the greatest challenges, and sources of satisfaction through accomplishment that one can get along the way.

We arrived at our destination at about 4:30 pm. Walnut Mountain shelter was full! Not only that - it was full of emotionally disturbed children with their counselors! Now I know why I usually try to get to shelters early. Chief Dave and Chief Joel were in charge, and they offered us some of their supper. This made the experience a bit better, as we used the additional food along with our own to refuel after such a long hard day. The back of my left foot was sore again. The majority of the day was nice and sunny. We stoked up the fire with the wood gathering ability of the children, and enjoyed the occasionally windy, and mostly cool evening.

Gonzo! Appalachian Trail Journals ©1983

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