Day 13 – Did Someone Say ‘Rain’ on the Appalachian Trail?

Day 13

Start: Tray Mountain Shelter

End: Campsite @ 70.3

Miles Hiked: 12.1

Total Miles on AT: 70.3

— note: I think my pocket map mileage is not updated to the mileage in the 2024 AT Guide, so I might be off by a little bit


Last night, the wind pummeled the side of the mountain like it was trying to win a fight. Just when I thought the wind would give up, it would return, making as much noise as it pleased. Needless to say, I didn’t have a great night’s sleep. Plus, I didn’t feel tired enough to completely pass out. Maybe it was the caffeine from the Bojangle’s iced tea I’d had the afternoon before.

We woke up around 7:30 am and started moving around 7:45 am. We’re trying to leave earlier; so far we haven’t been able to improve our pack up time, leaving us the option of starting earlier in the morning.

This particular morning Tray Mountain Shelter was bustling with activity. People were packing up and heading out every few minutes. We mostly took our time getting ready to go and must’ve left just before 9:30 am.

We first conquered our descent of Tray Mountain, then enjoyed a few easy ups and downs. Soon, however, came the serious climbing. Up and up and up we went. A couple of the ascents were again a straight shot to the top. Can you see a pattern on this trail? For a while it felt like we would never stop going up, but eventually we did.

Around 11:30 am, the wind began to gather the clouds, the tell-tale swirling moving through the air. Rain was in the forecast for 3 pm – 5 pm, but I wanted to eat our lunch while we could just in case it came earlier. We found a convenient spot near a campground with water and logs shaped perfectly for enjoying a meal. Don’t you just love finding a good lunch spot?

After lunch we continued on, climbing up Kelly Knob, enjoying the view, and then heading back down. Almost right on time, in the middle of our descent, the rain started. At 3 pm, the drops started to fall, softly and teasingly at first, like we were just going to get a preview of the rain the AT has to offer. We weren’t sure whether it would remain like this or pick up.

In hindsight, it was unsurprising that the rain started falling harder and harder. An hour later, my umbrella was well-used and we were exhausted, hungry, and ready to get to camp. We reached Dick’s Creek Gap and sought refuge in the sliver of a dry spot so graciously provided by an information sign.

We only had 0.9 miles left until our campsite, but weakened by hunger and fatigue, we felt like we would never get there. Just as our blood sugar reached ultimate lows, we saw it. Our campsite on a hill! 

We worked together to get our tent set up as quickly as possible so we could find respite from the cold and wet and wait out the rest of the rain storm. Luckily it stopped around 6 pm. With the air warmer than before, we were finally able to get our camp chores accomplished and have a hearty, warm dinner.

Tonight’s campsite turned out to be a quiet one. Two other hikers showed up, one of whom had seen my gear video before starting his through. We chatted for a while about shoes, socks, and the pros of camping in a quiet, sparsely populated site.

I, for one, am also happy to have a calmer, less-populated place to sleep tonight. The wind is calm and everything’s peaceful. Seems like the beginning of a wonderful night’s sleep.


And that’s day 13.


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