Pickle Branch Shelter-16.1 Miles
When I left the shelter you hat morning, everything was dripping. It was a long climb out from the shelter. I leapfrogged with PapaJ, Tumble and Will. Though we hike at about the same pace, they take breaks every hour. I just take breaks when I feel I need one. The trail went over some rocky crags and had several awesome views. The sun was still making its way up into the sky, and it made for a colorful sky with the view.
I had a very long, steep incline after that, which seemed to go on forever. It was warm and humid! I thought I would never reach the top, and when I did, I was drenched in sweat. Lo and behold, there was a bench on the trail in a clearing at the top,and a sign proclaiming Trail Magic – 200 yards. My mind briefly processed that it was 2 football fields away, but my body was taking me in that direction before my mind caught up.
There was a canopy set up, and two former thru hikers and their families were set up at the top of a road. They were camping there for Memorial Day Weekend and doing Trail Magic. I had a soda, some chips and some watermelon. It looked like they were firing up the grill, but I didn’t feel like I could afford the time to wait for it. The sky as starting to get dark and cloud up. I thanked the hosts, filled up my water bottle and I was off!
Not long down the trail, I came to a memorial for Audie Murphy, the most decorated WWII Veteran. He died in a plane crash near this memorial. I had seen it before, but since it was Memorial Day Weekend, I wanted to honor his memory. I have watched the movie of his life with Bud, and Audie Murphy’s life, and what he did during WWII was pretty amazing.
It started raining before I got to the shelter. It slacked off some, so I set up my tent. I went down to the shelter to eat my supper, but there was a well known AT personality smoking a joint there. For some reason, he seemed uncomfortable, especially when I recognized him and complimented his work. He then pointed the inhale end of the joint at me like ,”Want a toke?” 😂 …like I really looked like someone who would take a toke of his joint standing there with my gray hair and skirt. (Sorry…but sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying!) I acted like I did not see his peace offering and told him I was going back to my tent since it was starting to rain again.
I ate my cold rehydrated lunch in my tent as the rain came down. I heard the boys yelling at each other from my tent. I called out and Papa J came and told me Tumble was upset because they didn’t get space in the shelter. Poor guys. I know how they felt. We were tired of being dirty, stinky, wet, and dealing with the rain, yet again! The thought of setting up his tent in the rain sent him over the edge. They had gotten to the trail magic in time to have hotdogs and hamburgers, but it had thrown them late getting into the shelter. The rain had begun to fall in earnest and they had to set up their tents and hang their food bags in the rain.
It rained all night long.