Saturday, May 11th, 2019
Everything was wet in the morning and we hiked through a hazy, green fog. My mind felt relaxed listening to the slow chirp of the crickets and the birds singing in the trees.
The rain brought out the familiar smell of mildew and sweat from my clothes and pack. A turkey appeared out of nowhere, flapping loudly into the forest and scaring the life out of me. This cycle would continue as we’d see at least one turkey a day for the rest of the hike.
We would have no views in the morning. It was way too foggy. Water would be surprisingly scarce too, which was odd given it dumped rain on us yesterday. Spacejam and I would bushwhack a good ways down a hill to get to a water source. Frisbee’s patience paid off, since there ended up being two sources within the next few miles that weren’t listed in the guide.
A comment in the guide mentioned a 360-degree view where we planned on taking lunch. I wasn’t expecting much with the leaves covering the trees, but this ended up being bunk. There definitely wouldn’t have been a 360-degree view anyway. At least the sun was beginning to come out again.
We’d walk on a bed of pine needles on our way to Bulls Gap. There was a view a short distance off the trail and after being in the fog all day, I was determined to see it.
All three of us would be excited to see an old sign that claimed there was a shelter about 10 miles ahead. It wasn’t on the guide, so I was hopeful, but skeptical.
Once again, I was out of water. After taking a break at the Randall Heath Memorial viewpoint, we hiked on. Spacejam and I, once again, bushwhacked down a ravine to get water. There was only a trickle underneath some Mountain Laurels, but it was enough.
After hiking on, we realized that the shelter didn’t exist, nor did the lookout tower that Spacejam had in his guide. That was on a different section of trail that we had passed already.
Since the planned stop wasn’t an option, we started heading toward the access road after passing a man and his two young children who were camping by a viewpoint. We heard thunder, so once we got to the road, we rushed to find a place to set up before the rain came. We found a spot a few yards passed the road at mile 52.3.
23.5 miles (37.8 km)
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