Day 5

Start: Poor Mountain
Finish: Blue Mountain Shelter
Miles: 10.0 Total Miles: 50.5

This was not my best day. Yesterday, I noticed my right knee was starting to bother me a bit. Today, it really began to become a problem.

I packed up camp early, and got on the trail by 8:00. The forecast was a chance of rain, which other than a brief shower before dawn, held off till I was a couple of miles from my goal of Blue Mountain Shelter. At which point, there began a slow and steady rain that continued for the rest of the day and most of the night.

I started off with a climb to the top of Sheep Rock Top, and then a descent into Low Gap, where the shelter I declined to stay at the previous night was located. I used up most of my water and was intending on stopping at the shelter to refill, but managed to walk right past it while pondering something, probably of incredible inanity. Fortunately, there was a little waterfall a third of a mile beyond the shelter where I was able to resupply. I started ascending a mild climb which would last the majority of the day, eventually depositing me atop Blue Mountain, or at least close to it.

The trail today, until the last mile or two was the nicest I’ve encountered since starting the thru-hike. Ah, if only the whole trail were like this! Of course, when I finally got to the rocky section of the hike, the rain started and the rocks I had to clamber over were also quite mossy and slimy. I like to say it was great fun, but I can’t. With going up, over, and down the slippery rocks I put a lot of stress on my knees and they were killing me by the time I got to the shelter. And it was raining. I think I mentioned that.

I hung out in the shelter for a while until the rain temporarily slackened, and then rushed out to set up my tent. I got it up just before the rain started up again. The shelter and the surrounding tent sites were quite busy with a dozen thru-hikers and a party of coeds from Dartmouth that were hiking the trail for spring break. This is the first time on my hike that I’ve spent the night at a shelter, though I didn’t actually sleep in the shelter itself.

I heated up some water for a gourmet meal of spaghetti and meat sauce, courtesy of Mountain House, and then sat around and got caught up on the trail gossip. Apparently, another interesting individual that I haven’t met yet, has become locally famous as 90 Pound Pack Guy. Since he has started the trail at Springer Mountain, he has been shedding gear at each and every shelter. So far the loot has included, among other things, a throwing tomahawk, a hatchet (why anyone would need both of these is a mystery for the ages), and a gun. Yes, he left a gun on the trail. And a couple of German hikers, who were in the shelter that night found it. As I told them, “Welcome to America, you come to visit and we give you a gun! When you get home, tell all your friends!”

At this point, another hiker pulled out what he described as a present from his brother, that he felt compelled to carry along, at least till he gets to someplace where he can mail it back home. It was described as a knife, but from my reading on the subject of ancient weaponry, would more properly be recognized as a Roman short sword. It was a Bowie knife on steroids. As the wielder of this oversized piece of ironmongery pointed out, it also had a compass, and a fire starter, and probably half dozen other implements buried in the hilt. I asked him what he intended on doing with it when he got home, as the only time I’ve ever seen a knife of this size and wickedness, it was in the hands of a particularly depraved serial killer on TV. Of course, once one guy pulls out a knife, every one else had to pull out their knifes for comparison. Fortunately, everyone else had something sensible. I left my Swiss Army knife in my pack, because, knife envy.

I spent a pretty restful night listening to the rain on my tent, snug as a bug. My sleeping pad has been incredibly comfortable. I managed to sleep for close to eight hours, which Mary will attest I hardly ever do at home.

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