Sunday, April 24, 2016 7:13 pm
Location: Clyde Smith Shelter (368.3 miles)

I finally slept well last night, and the morning was just cool enough for me to not want to get out of my sleeping bag. What finally did it was Beast having words with the guy who set the fire last night. All I really heard was Beast saying, "You just don't give a shit," but the conversation apparently started with fire guy asking Beast if he "pooped on the trail". (Seriously? What kind of person would even ask that?!)

The hike today started with a long climb uphill to the spruce forest atop Unaka Mountain. The forest looked really awesome, and I wish I had remembered to get a photo of it.

Most of the rest of the day was a blur. Beast was feeling on-point, and later on, wanted to do a 22 mile day (and I kept saying, "let's get to the next shelter and we'll see"). Meanwhile, spring continued to assert itself, and the foliage on trees was starting to become evident.

Spring Arrives
Spring Arrives

We made it to the Clyde Smith shelter mid-afternoon, and Beast was somewhat deflated from his lofty goal. While I was not yet willing to commit to the additional 8 miles he wanted to do, I was willing to push ahead.

The problem was, fire guy was going to be at the spot Beast had planned for, and he didn't really want to go there and wind up in another confrontation. There were really no other good campsites before then, though, and Beast was deflated from the thought of camping with that guy, so we just stayed where we were.

At the shelter, we found a large ziplock bag with items another thru-hiker, Olive Oil, left behind. The bag, labeled "Olive Oil's possessions", and with a request to please carry to her because it's "too heavy" included a journal with one entry and the start of a second; a packet of two aspirin; and a 1450 page large paperback version of War and Peace.

The journal, printed with very legible handwriting, was dated April 15th (Day 31), so had been in the shelter for just over a week, made for a fascinating performance piece, and given that it's in that bag with War and Peace, I seriously doubt it's going to find its way to Olive Oil anytime soon. That said:

Olive Oil: should you ever happen to see this: I took photos of the three pages of your journal entry, so if you'd like a copy, contact me and I'll be happy to email them to you.

Later, while several of us were eating dinner, Packrat tried to throw his bear bag line. His first attempt over a high branch initially looked like it was a winner … until the rock he threw wrapped itself around a smaller branch and became stuck.

Over the next 45 minutes or so (interrupted by a water gathering expedition), Packrat continually worked at recovering the rock (and more importantly, the other end of his rope). In a double-or-nothing plan, he tied a rock around the free end of the rope and threw it over the branch, reducing the number of branches the rope passed around, and giving him better angle and leverage to pull the rock free. The gambit worked, and he eventually successfully freed his bear bag rope from the tree.

The shelter had a plaque on it for work a local Eagle Scout troop who had done work on the water source. We initially misinterpreted it as the scouts had built the shelter, and then blamed each weird design decision in the shelter on it having been designed by/for Eagle Scouts. (The shelter had a strange design, with the bottom unnecessarily divided into three sleeping areas by poor placement of the supports for the top bunks, which left a gap in the middle, only providing space for one on each side. The stools in front of the "tables" built into the shelter were too low, and had a uselessly-placed foot bar.)