I appreciate that Eric’s trail name is Learnin’, because it forces me to notice how many tiny lessons we are given the chance to learn every day. There are a lot. Here’s two stories about one lesson we’ve learned lately.
First: The day we climbed Roan Mountain, which is a big climb, torrential rain was predicted, with flash flooding down below and possibly hail. And cold. We decided to hike at least to Roan High Knob Shelter at the summit (it’s the highest shelter on the AT) which would be eight miles. If it was miserable out, we could stay there and do a bigger day the next day. If it cleared up in the afternoon, we could hike on.
It was miserable out. We were soaked and freezing by the time we got there. Phoenix and Johnny Appleseed were there having lunch, along with a section hiker we’d camped with the night before. We changed into dry clothes and made our own lunch and sat watching the awful weather. Everyone was debating whether to stay or go, but I was no longer interested in putting back on my wet clothes and going out and freezing. So we decided to stay, and I unpacked my bag.
After an hour or so it started to seem like it would clear up. Fivel, Little Foot, and Dandelion planned to go on no matter what. Phoenix and Johnny Appleseed were undecided. But the sky lightened, and someone said it looked like it was clearing. P&JA decided to go for it. And suddenly everyone decided to go for it. Even we did. I went and repacked my bag. But we needed to get water. P&JA were hiking off just as we got back from getting water and still had to finish packing our bags. Then the section hiker took off. It had started to drizzle again, so I said we should hang back for a second and let it clear again rather than deliberately walk into rain.
About a minute later the sky let loose again with more torrential rain. It didn’t stop all afternoon. We ended up staying at the shelter, cold but dry. And so glad we delayed leaving just a little bit.
Sunday we’d set ourselves up for a short day (8 miles) to the Vango/Abbey Memorial Hostel outside Roan Mountain, TN (the friendliest town ever, by the way). We’d been out for eleven straight nights and were in want of a hot shower and laundry. But when we got to the hostel (via .4 mile side trail), no one was around. We decided to sit there and eat lunch and see what happened. While we were eating, two guys who’d come in the night before came by. They said the caretaker was gone to Trail Days. They’d been taken in by the neighbors.
We were really disappointed. There’d been promises of ice cream, a shower, a bed, clean clothes. And now we were pulling out the guidebook, figuring out where to camp and how to get to Hampton (to try for all those things again), quickly. We got all packed up but felt slow moving. We hung around chatting with Tanner and Adam. And then! A camper van pulled up to the gate, the caretaker got out, and before we knew it we were in our own room, showered, eating a pint of ice cream each (no problem for me at all) and watching the weird collection of VHS tapes.
So, sometimes, just wait a minute. And see.