Appalachian Trail Thru-hike Day 14: April 5, 2017, Winding Stair Gap to Siler Bald Shelter

It was time to leave the comforts of my hotel room and get back on the trail. I said goodbye to a soft bed, the water you could drink without filtering first, and the biggest thing of all, a toilet that flushed. I knew this would be a short day as it was forecasted to start raining around noon and continue raining all the following day. My plan was to hike to Siler Bald shelter, less than four miles away, and ride out the rain. I caught a shuttle back to the trail. As I started down the trail, I could feel the weight of a freshly re-supplied pack on my shoulders, but my legs felt strong, and I was zooming down the trail. It wasn’t long before I came across a little footbridge over a beautiful waterfall. These are becoming my nemesis when trying to hike fast on the trail because I just have to stop and enjoy them all.

15 minutes later, I was headed down the trail again. I couldn’t believe how strong my legs felt and how I no longer needed to stop to catch my breath as I walked up a large hill. I would soon be putting my newfound stamina to the test as the sky started to darken and I could hear that all too familiar sound of thunder in the background. I quickened my pace to the point I was practically jogging down the trail. Unlike two days ago, the rain gods looked down and smiled at me. I made it to the shelter just as the rains came. I was the only one there, and it felt a little creepy.

The rain was starting to blow in sideways and was getting me wet. Luckily someone had left a tarp at the shelter, so I tied it up to close the shelter’s opening, and all us good. It wasn’t much later that people started pouring into this eight-person shelter. Currently, we are up to around a dozen people. They are a very cool group of people. We have a small little table in the center of the lean-to attached to the shelter. One of the guys lit his alcohol stove and put it on the table just for ambiance he said. He also had a small personal speaker and started playing a great list of music that brought us all together. We all talked about our lives and how the trial was affecting us. I felt like this was how it might have been in the sixties or early seventies when things were simpler.

We all piled into the shelter, laid our sleeping bags right next to another, and covered every useable inch of floor space. So I went from thinking this was going to be a bad day on the trail because it was raining all day and I didn’t get very far to……I’m now 113.2 miles into the AT and today was my best day on the trail so far.