Saturday–April 10, 2021
Location–Albert Mountain, AT Mile 100, then to Nantahala National Forest Albert Mountain Campground
Sure glad to have been in the Carter Gap Shelter last night. Joe and Lightweight scooted over and made room for one more. I slept well. Something about rain on a tin roof. It was steady all night, driven by cold wind.
Conditions are no better first light this morning, dismal wind-driven rain, but everyone’s up, fixing breakfast, and packing up. They’re all out in it and gone, all cheerful–and full of hope and confidence. I linger, finally managing to get back on trail at nine. I’m confident and full of hope, too. Though the rocks and roots are trouble enough when the trail is dry; they’re double trouble when wet. Steady, watch where you’re going old man. “Remember years ago? Many years past, in those days you’d bounce when you went down; now you just go THUD!”
More trail today through what used to be the green tunnel. It’s still a tunnel, but now it’s a cold, gray, unwelcome place. More dead rhododendron, their interwoven, twisted and gnarled limbs all that remain of a once profusely green and inviting canopy.
The past few days my path has crossed with that of a young lady (thru-hiker) and her father. Today we hike some together. She shows much interest in my trail ramblings and I talk her ear off. In a while, and as we approach AlbertMountain, to soon begin that difficult (and memorable ascent (my fourth). I encourage her to do the climb, even though it’s raining hard again–and I was seriously considering suggesting she take the bad weather bypass around. But after telling her about the climb, last minute, I change my mind. Hey, one more go at it; what the heck! Beginning the climb, I get a great shot of her approaching through the rocks, roots, rain, and the clouds. And so, I want to post that photo in my entry for today. Sorry young lady, I didn’t get your name.
Stanley is supporting me again today. And even though it’s over an hour’s drive for him, up the mountain from the paved road, he’s come as far up as he possibly can–to the Albert Mountain Fire Tower parking area. At the 100-mile marker (sticks forming the number “100” right in the trail) he’s waiting for me–here to take this tired, cold, wet hiker off the mountain for the night. My goodness, thanks Stanley…
Hope is the thing with feathers,
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all.