Weaving my way around Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Jarrad Gap to Neel Gap

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The day dawned bright and beautiful. Neel gap was a mere 5 miles away, and we were a day ahead of schedule. Time for a new plan. We looked at the map and decided to hike to Blood Mountain Shelter. Were had been told it was a difficult climb, much more difficult that Sassafras or Big Cedar Mountains. We knew there was a bad storm coming in around 6, with possible high winds and tornadoes, along with rain and lightning. 

The climb was rocky, and my toes were soon complaining. They don’t like the VFF boots with the heavier sole as much as the thinner, lighter VFF shoes. Sat on the rock steps to change shoes, and you can see from my smile that my feet are much happier!

Blood Mountain proved to be a much easier climb that we were led to believe. We summited by noon and found the shelter to be a dismal, dreary, windy stone building on top of the mountain. The view was magnificent, but not a place we wanted to spend the night.

As we were debating what to do, another hiker arrived. Biscuit had done a thru hike a couple of years back, and was taking 5 months to hike as much as she could before she started law school in the fall. She said the way down was easier that the climb up, and that the hostel would be a fun place to spend a rainy, windy night.

After chatting with Biscuit and some other local hikers, we started down the mountain. It was a fun, but steep, climb down.

Over the past few days I had started naming the rocks, and all of them were called by name in the afternoon hike out to the hostel.

I met LPERs (pronounced leaper)  – little pig eating rocks

and BTERS (biters) – big toe eating rocks

and MT CRS (mighty curs) – middle toe crushing rocks

and, last but not least, PGRRS (piggers) – pole grabbing roots and rocks.

The PGRRS were the most dangerous, as they threw me off-balance, the LPRS were the tricksters, jumping up out of nowhere to eat my poor little toes, the BTERS were few and far between, but powerful none the less, and the MT CRS were the most cruel. I met several of each on the way down the trail that day!

The hostel at Mountain Crossing is a legend in the AT hiker community. Run for the past 27 years by a crusty old character named Pirate, who cooks dinner and breakfast every day for his guests. The dorm sleeps 16 in bunks lining the walls, the water is hot and endless, there’s laundry facilities, and several resident cats who will curl up in your lap or your bed.

We rolled in early, claimed our bunks & towels, waited our turn for the showers and then enjoyed our dinner. After dinner there was a rousing game of “no rules” team scrabble, with beer for all the participants. I opted for a foot soak; nothing quite so surreal and “flash back to the 60’s” as to sit in a hostel, soaking your feet in a red plastic pail, playing scrabble with a dozen strangers turned instant friends. It was the perfect place to wait out the coming storm.


Written by wovensongs

February 22, 2012 at 6:13 pm

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