Arriving at Rock Gap Shelter

Days 9-12 brought us to mile 106 on the trail, at the Rock Gap Shelter.

Not long after the last post Kyle picked up a couple extra hiking sticks and started hiking double-pole style. He said he felt like he was a mechwarrior (these big robot suits that fight each other in an old video game we played) and I suggested that be his trail name, Mechwarrior. The name stuck for a little while but he’s still looking for a truer trail name.

Kyle also has started hiking exclusively in the Teva sandles he brought, and his knee is doing much better. We think his hefty Solomon trail shoes could have been causing the problem. The Tevas work pretty well, you really don’t need much more than that.

My feet have been doing well. I’ve been using sock liners, taping hot spots with leukotape, and using body glide on my feet, and have had no blister problems yet. Something is working!

An update on my super slow Sawyer Squeeze problem: Kyle picked up a Sawyer Mini and it’s WAY faster than my squeeze. Seems that I must have a dud filter, that’s why it was so slow before. Have to give that company a call.

Days 9-11 were great sunny weather. We covered some good miles and enjoyed it. We’ve been hiking in an odd bubble without many other hikers. We hear there are large clusters ahead and behind us we haven’t encountered yet. Which made it nice to set up camp near some others one night. We joined Two girls named Hay and Patches and another couple around a campfire and talked a long time.

Day 12 dropped back to freezing and nasty. We trudged along, at one point up some super steep rocks a local called “the stairs to Mordor.” The rain didn’t help. At the top was Albert Mountain and a fire tower. The view of the fog was magnificent. 

Trudging continued, thumbs numbing, until we reached Rock Gap Shelter. There we encountered an older man named Airborne. He started talking and didn’t stop. The guy was carrying 80 pounds! He moved slow but wasn’t giving up. Told us a story about being attacked by a show tiger in Arizona.

That’s when a guy showed up inviting people to the official opening of his guest house. We were near Franklin, a hiker town with a lot of tempting amenities, namely restaurants and breweries and hostels. The guy offered a great price and swept up everyone in the shelter but us. But we held out. It was cold and damp but that’s what we’re here for, right?

It was our first night sleeping in a shelter. AT shelters are three sided wood structures of varying size and quality, about every 5-10 miles. This shelter was dirty, but fortunately we didn’t encounter any mice, as many shelters are infested. I slept poorly and prefer my tent, which has become my cozy traveling home.

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