Roan and Rain and A Foggy Fate

Miss Janet returned from dropping Kyle off and we loaded in her van for 20 miles of slackpacking. ‘Slackpacking’ is when someone holds most of your gear so you can hike with a light day pack. It was fun to try, and made for my first 20 mile day on the trail and the easiest 20 miles I’ve ever done. Afterwards she drove us to a massive Chinese buffet. I started with a plate of  terrible sushi and for the rest of the meal I could only handle ice cream. 

I traced DG with scissors to make Miss Janet a bear skin rug:

The next morning another trail legend showed up: Rob Bird. He played some killer tunes for us on PeaceDawg’s guitar. Like Miss Janet he drives around a big van helping hikers. After lunch we finally escaped the Erwin vortex. PeaceDawg and DanceSmooth comically stopped after only two miles, so I pushed on for 12.

Day 37 was rain and swirling fog. I climbed Roan Mountain and crossed over several wicked-winded balds. 

I stopped early at an iconic barn converted into a shelter, though I forgot to get a photo. For some reason about thirty hikers converged on that shelter that night, including Team Mudslide and many others I hadn’t seen in a while. I played a chess game with Flip, a hiker who started at exactly the same time as me. 

The next day was just as nasty. Crossing over open balds the wind pressed the rain straight through my coat. And then it happened. Descending a mud strip I leaned on Fog and it snapped in two. Stunned. Dismayed. After 400 miles my trusty walking stick had failed me. I couldn’t just leave poor Fog in the rain, so I carried it down the mountain for a proper farewell (Scene: blustery, slopmudded, wind-gummed eyes; Beowulf (with passion) “You carried me, Fog, now I’ll carry you!”).

A few hours and a couple thousand feet lower the weather cleared up. And what do you know, but I find a bamboo walking stick right in the trail! Turns out the universe was on my side after all.

Fog was cremated in a fire that night, while I crooned out a requiem on my harp.

The bamboo carried me through the next day, another rough and rainy one, my toes blistering a bit now, finishing at long last at Kinkora hostel where I got a bed, a shower, and a great game of chess with Cliffhanger.

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