By Karen L Amundson, May 21 2017 09:18PM
Day 20 (12 miles, 3,700 vertical feet)
I'm sorry that I haven't been able to get posts out, but the cell coverage has been spotty in the Smokey Mountains.
Today we knew there was a big 3-day storm coming to the Smokey's, which is why I did such a big mileage day yesterday. My warrior expedition buddies told me they were impressed, which means a lot coming from those guys.
I started the day out a bit earlier than normal since I slept in the shelter, & didn't have to tear my tent down. If you look carefully to the left of the notch in the foreground you can see Fontana Lake, where I started yesterday. If you follow the ridge line to the right, & then move to the forefront as you get to the right, that was basically the entire hike yesterday.
Almost right on schedule, the rain started at 11:00. I was only about 15 min from the Derrick Knob shelter. By the time I arrived, the temp had dropped about 20 degrees, & you could see your breath. I climbed into the shelter & cooked myself a hot lunch of rice. The rain started to come down very heavy, so more & more hikers came into the shelter.
Still being cold I got out of my wet clothes & climbed into my sleeping quilt to warm up. I thought we were going to be there all night, but the rains quit by 2:00. Connor Dawson convinced me that it didn't look too bad out there, & coaxed me from my warm down home. I put my wet cloths back on & started the push for the next shelter 6 miles down the trail. Seeing that we were moving on, so did everyone else in the shelter. Given my big mileage the day before, I couldn't stay ahead of the fast 20 somethings, & when I arrived at the next shelter it was full. Connor & the warrior boys decided to push on to the next shelter 2 miles ahead, but I was spent.
The temp was in the upper 30's with 20-30 mph winds & rain as I struggled to rectify my tent on the least un-flat piece of ground I could find. I got in, wet & cold around 6:30. I was out of water, & couldn't convince myself to go out in the cold downpour for 15 min, so there would hot dinner. Instead I buried my head under my quilt & ate my trail mix.
Several hours later I was laying on my side, when a particular lightning strike went off, I saw the outline of a mouse running up & down the screen of my tent less than a foot from my face, & worse yet I couldn't tell if it was outside or inside my tent! I immediately bolted to my knees & grabbed my headlamp, & realized in my hast to get my tent up & get warm I forgot to hang my food. After doing a thorough inspection of my tent I determined the rotten rodent had been outside my tent.
Thank God, because to quote my friend Paul "I hate mices to pieces". Unfortunately, the only way I was going to get any sleep would be to go hang all my food in the middle of the night in a cold thunderstorm. Since the alternative was having the mouse come back & chew a hole in my tent, I reluctantly climbed out of my warm down cocoon & walked into the cold wet darkness to do the deed.