Nothing will motivate you to start climbing mountains like putting on soaking wet clothes on a 48 degree morning. After a hot breakfast, I packed my stuff at lightening speed, and set off to tackle the last 1,000 of climbing that I didn’t finish yesterday. Even with the light breeze, I warmed up in no time.
Remember the pictures I posted in early spring of the grass border along the trail where the hiking poles kept the ground aerated? I’m now calling that grass Cat Grass. It was cute at first when it was little, but now that it has grown up, it is not so cute. It has now grown so thick that you can barely see your feet, and when it is wet, each blade holds about a cup of water. The the trail on the climb up to the summit of Apple Orchard Mountain was lined with Cat Grass, and it was no different than walking through an ice cold stream. With the additional motivation of cold wet feet, I crushed that mountain and made it to the top in under an hour.
At the summit of Apple Orchard Mountain is an interesting FAA weather radar station, but the weather was so bad that I might have walked past it if not for the sound of the generators. Shortly after the radar station, the trail leads you through the Guillotine, an often photographed A.T. landmark. If I remember the story correctly, Chuck Norris created the crack in the rocks with a single front kick, and then placed the boulder in the middle just for fun.
I passed the Thunder Hill Shelter around 9:15, where Scar had spent the night, but by then Scar was long gone. So I started to make my way down from the mountain. Although the trail was still wet from all the rain, the trip down passed through some beautiful forests. The further I descended, the more the weather improved and the more flowers were in bloom. My only regret was that there was not a clear view along the trail of the stunning James River Valley.
Near the end of the day, I passed a really nice campsite near the Matts Creek Shelter, and decided it would be a nice place to spend the night. I still hadn’t caught up with Scar and, being without cell service, didn’t know where he had stopped. There was still a little sunshine left, so I spread out my wet stuff on some rocks to dry, and set up my tent next to Matts Creek. With my nightly chores completed, I’m looking forward to falling asleep to the sound of a rushing creek, instead of the sound of pelting rain.