Tuesday–May 4, 2021
Location–Jones Meadow, AT Mile 297.1
We’re up at first light. Barry prepares a fried egg sandwich for me, plus coffee (In the neat little kitchenette here at Creekside Cottages in Hot Springs) and we’re soon loaded and on our way back up to Hurricane Gap. I’ve my pack up and hiking before seven-thirty.
Thunderstorms are forecast for this entire day, and by nine they’ve no-nonsense arrived. Nice trail, easy tread for a change. But by the time I reach Adams Gap where Barry awaits with lunch for me, the fine trail has turned mud.
The rain continues steady as I sit patiently in the dry van. Hikers are crossing the road, continuing on in the rain. Seeing no letup, I soon follow. Thanks, Barry!
The hike this afternoon is up, and up some more, three thousand feet in seven miles. The rain continues, along with the cloud-to-cloud lightning. Then, out of nowhere comes this earth-rattling KAPOW! Cloud to ground lightning. The flash and report are simultaneous. The strike couldn’t have been more than a couple-hundred yards from me. I dig my sticks in, hike harder.
By mid afternoon I’ve got the climb behind me, but not the boulders. Last obstacle before reaching Jones Meadow, a treacherous boulder field.
At just shy of 4,500 feet elevation, Jones Meadow is a most unwelcome place in this cold, driving rain. I’m soaked to the bone, very cold–becoming hypothermic. Barry takes one look at me and the decision is to get down off this mountain. In an hour, we’re at the Days Inn in Greeneville, Tennessee.
What an incredible day on this venerable Appalachian Trail. Besides the cold, relentless rain, my left foot’s been killing me today. Playing out–the old adage about the AT:
No rain, no pain,