Cinco de Mayo!
5/5- campsite(486.2) to campsite(502.3)
As the weather warms up, we eventually need to send our winter weather gear home and get our warm weather clothes. The rule of thumb for the end of real cold weather is Damascus. But I’ve also heard Mount Rogers (the highest peak in Virginia, about 30 miles past Damascus). Regardless, I’m planning on seeing my family in late May so i decided to save some postage and hold on to my clothes until their visit. Unfortunately for some of the hikers, they chose Damascus.
Cinco de Mayo started with Helton (one of the Warrior hikers) vomiting pretty heavily. Turns out he had been sick all night and we think it’s Norovirus. So as we all packed up to leave, we supplied him with extra water, food, and toilet paper so he could rest up for the day and hike up to meet us after he felt better
The day had two climbs ahead of us: Whitetop Mountain and Mount Rogers. The latter is the highest point in Virginia.
While ascending Whitetop I could see the freeze line at the top. The temperature dropped quickly as we got up the hill, right around freezing, with the 20+ mph winds dropping it well below freezing. And when I hit the top, I was incredibly excited to see a winter scene right out of a Disney movie. All of the grass, shrubs, and trees had a horizontal ice glazed over it from the sustained winds. The heavy fog gave it a ‘Lord of the Rings’ kind of feel. It was amazing. Since I still had my cold gear, I was able to just stand and take it in. As I was just standing in awe of the view, the fog lifted for about 30 seconds and you could see a clear view for miles!
The rest of the hike was cold. Even at lower elevations between Whitetop and Mount Rogers when the frost was gone it was hovering right around freezing.
After the short drop between summits we got to Mount Rogers. We didn’t actually summit the mountain (that was a blue blazed trail and we knew the view would be too foggy to see anything) that’s where we saw the ponies!! My friend Gamel told me they lick the salt off your skin so when I was getting charged by the ponies, I remembered that and rolled up my sleeve instead of getting defensive and running away (like Hot Toddie) and got licked! They were very friendly and we got to see two foals!
After the ponies it was cold, windy, and wet. It was the hardest few miles I had. Luckily the terrain wasn’t hard. We finally made it to Mountain Goat and Survivor’s camp, strategically set under some rhododendron plants to keep some of the snow off the tents. By time we got to camp, there was about 1/4 inch of snow and slush on their tents. We made dinner in our tents, yelling to eachother for conversation. Since it was Cinco de Mayo I made a burrito and had a beer.
Although it was colder than I’m used to, this Cinco de Mayo rocked.
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