Daleville to Jennings Creek
Pat’s First Day Out
Pat and I drove and dropped off a car at Jennings Creek and then back to the parking lot in Daleville where we’d start. It was around 5 pm (a bit of a late start) but we only had a few miles to go. We got to cross under I-81! There were some pretty cow pastures we hiked through and then we headed up the mountain towards the shelter. We made pretty good timing and Patrick didn’t think it was hard at all although he said the pack did add to work a little. There is a cool rain water collecting system at Fullhardt Knob shelter which would be awesome to have at other shelters with no water sources. We set up our borrowed tent (thanks Rodger), cooked ramen with powered peanut butter, and with some difficulty got up the bear bag.
There has been a lot of bear activity on the AT this year and the area we were in had a bear activity warning. That night at around 4 am Patrick and I woke up to a noise in the woods. It sounded like something large was pacing back and fourth somewhere close by. We concluded it was a bear after comparing notes with those who stayed in the shelter the next morning. It was an exciting first experience for Pat and the first time I’ve been close to a bear encounter on the AT.
Rain, Rain Go Away
We woke up to a light rain and stayed in the tent until it stopped. We got packed up and started walking in the light drizzle. The mountain Laurel is out right now and it’s beautiful. We were walking through fences of flowers at times and past streams, also ghost flowers and indian pipes were blooming. After lunch at the halfway point we came into contact with the Blue Ridge Parkway for the first time. We had to cross the Parkway several times afterwards and were following it for some time.
Towards the end of the day it started to rain and we hoped it wouldn’t last long. The rain was cold and and did not want to let down. We got to the shelter and there were many people there. The rain had gotten harder and we were soaked. We sat for a bit waiting for a break in the rain but it didn’t come. The shelter had very little flat spots to camp and the ground was extremely rocky. We settled for a place right next to the shelter and struggled getting the steaks into the rocky soil. We cooked sitting on edge of the shelter, got completely soaked hanging the bear bag, and then wet and cold lumbered into the tent. I had a towel and was able to soak up some of the water in the tent so it was a little warmer in there once we had dry cloths on and the sleeping pads inflated. Feeling slightly better we settled in knowing that even if it rained tomorrow at least we had warm showers waiting for us on the other end.
The next day everything was still wet but the rain had finally stopped. We ate breakfast, I put my dry socks into my wet boots, we packed all of our wet things, and headed out. It was still foggy when we got to the two places on the Parkway where we could of had awesome views and as soon as we were past them the sun came out and it was a beautiful day. We missed the views at the start but the forest had so many mountain laurels and magnificent trees that it was fine by me. It was an easy walk but I was drained from the day before and ended up hiking in my crocks because my wet boots/socks were getting to me. After a lovely walk down to the valley we got to the car and decided to pick up some Bojangles again because I’ll be leaving the south pretty soon. Then we went home to enjoy some time together before he headed back Texas and I returned to the trail.
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