- Day 1: Highway 81 to Cove Mountain shelter (22 miles)
- Day 2: Cove Mountain Shelter to Thunder Hill shelter (16 miles)
- Day 3: Thunder Hill to Punchbowl shelter (25 miles)
- Day 4: Punchbowl Shelter to Seely Woodward shelter (24 miles)
- Day 5: Seely Woodward shelter to Spicewood Cabin [on Highway 56] (12 miles)
The second day, I woke and started moving with a purpose: to outrun the rain that was on the way! I had been checking the weather like it was my favorite t.v. show the week leading up to the trip and I knew the second day was going to have thunderstorms in the afternoon lasting through the night. I had 16 miles to cover and the bad weather was supposed to roll in about 2pm. I woke up, made breakfast, packed up my gear and sipped down my last bit of coffee as I let out onto the trail in the dark.
I trekked a few miles by headlamp, downhill to Jennings Springs where I filtered water for the day ahead of me. The morning was chilly and filtering the cold water was a chore in and of itself! Once complete I started the uphill battle towards Thunder Hill about 3000 feet above my current elevation. I had some work to do! The sun slowly rose but never peaked through the overcast morning protecting the cool canyons where the creeks trickled through. On one such creek crossing I stumbled upon Bryant Ridge shelter, this was well built sizeable double decker was meant to house 20 people! I took a quick break here before pushing on through the woods to my next stop.
As I trekked upwards towards ridge where I planned to camp a creepy fog rolled in. I knew this was the precursor to the thunderstorms which were marching towards me. The low lying cloud engulfed the twisted woods around me and reminded me of a scene out of sleepy hollow. To add to the fun I walked past a tree that had been freshly stripped of bark from about 9 feet up to the base. There was no mistaking that this was bear sign. Only thing I could do was keep trekking.
It started to sprinkle just a mile before my destination, I quickly threw on my rain jacket and pack cover and pushed through the fog. I finally reached the empty shelter and set up camp, filtered more water, and got into my tent ready to read the rest of the rainy afternoon. Just as I went to zip the tent closed a cold wet nose came sniffing my hand! To my relief it was a German shepherd named Chaos (and not a bear). A southbound through hiker and his dog “Chaos and Company” had just arrived to seek haven in the shelter from the rain. They had started hiking in Pennsylvania for a short 4 day trip which turned into a 2 month excursion after they decided just to stay on trail. They were a funny crew: he told me about only treating AT water with bleach, special all natural dog food for Chaos, his homemade couscous StoveTop Ramen meals, and his weakness for coffee (guy had a full bag of sugar and creamer, obviously lot too concerned with weight). It always amazing the people you meet out on the trial! I finished a few pages of my book and passed out to the sound of rain on the shelter roof.
- Weather: Hi 50s, Low in the upper 30s, Overcast Thunderstorms
- Water: 5 liters
- Food: 2 Nature Valley Peanut butter granola bar, 2 Clif Bars, 1 meal replacement protien bar, 1 bag of beef jerky (3oz), 1 via starbucks instant coffee, 1 Quaker Real Medleys, 1 Mountain House Beef Stroganoff meal, pro bag energy gummys, Doritos, 3 Oreos
- Time: 8 hours day 2
- Distance: 16 Miles one way from Cove Mountain Shelter to Thunder Hill Shelter
- 58 liter exos osprey backpack
- Big Anges UL2 tent
- Flash REI sleeping pad
- Cosmic Down Kelty Sleeping Bag (rated to 20 deg F)
- Cocoon Sleeping Bag liner
- Jet Boil – Sol
- Black Diamond trekking poles
- Sawyer squeeze water filter
- Smart wool 195 long sleeve shirt
- Smart wool beanie cap
- Serius Ski Facemask
- Patagonia Pants
- Arc’teryx Mid layer Hoody
- Merrell Mid Moab Hiking Boots
- Smart wool medium weight sox and liners
- Giro Mountain Biking Gloves