Day 13

Start: Standing Indian Shelter
Finish: Betty Gap
Mile: 11.3 Total Miles: 97.6

As predicted, a thunderstorm moved in just before dawn. It was pretty exciting, especially for someone from Colorado, where thunderstorms when you’re hiking are more likely to induce stark, screaming terror. Since normally, if you encounter a thunderstorm above tree level you are the highest standing object and thus make for a natural and soon carbonized lightning rod. But snug in my tent, below tree line, I was comfortable and enjoyed the light show. The rain continued till about seven, then tapered off. Still packing a wet tent in temperatures just slightly above freezing in the morning wasn’t what I’d call fun.

This morning, I ate a more substantial breakfast than I have normally, and also had some hot coffee before setting out. I wanted to hike around twelve miles for the day, which would put me just a little over a day from the road that leads to Franklin, NC.

For the first time since I started hiking, I really made good progress with a minimum of pain and effort. I’m not saying I’ve got my hiker legs yet, but I’m getting closer. The hike started off with a major climb. I managed that in a little over on an hour. From there, the rest of the day was extraordinarily pleasant. Of course, I started in fog with drippage from the trees, but by 11:00am the sun broke out, and although it was still fairly cool, it became a great day for hiking.

I made it to Betty Gap around 3:00, which was a little early, but since very soon after was the climb up the dreaded Albert Mountain, I decided to call it a day. For a change, the camping site was located in and among a grove of rhododendrons, so instead of the usual bare trees and dead leaves that we usually see, there was actual greenery.

Tonight, I dined on the first of my AlpineAire freeze dried meals, a Chicken Vindaloo. It didn’t resemble any vindaloo I’ve ever had previously, but it was mildly spicy and filling. So far I’ve had the Mountain House Beef Stronganoff, Lasagna, Spaghetti with Meat Sauce, and Chicken and Rice, and of them all, the Lasagna was the pick of the litter. Although it does leave a thick deposit of quasi-cheese on the spoon, which takes quite a while to chip off. It occupies one’s evenings, when seated around the campfire.

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