April 25 - Hogback Ridge Shelter (315.0)

The rain came before dawn, a sprinkle, and the sky on rising was partly sunny. We pack up and leave together at 7:10. I pass Achin on the first big incline and don't see him again until the first shelter. Deb suggested getting more protein in my diet, and it seems to be bolstering performance. Have added whey powder to oatmeal for breakfast the last two days, and including summer sausage and cheese with lunch. When you're using 4-6,000 calories a day, you can eat as much as you want. Carrying it is another matter as my actual daily intake is closer to 2-3,000 calories a day (which is why hikers eat so much in town, or at a Trail Magic).

We are making our way to the first shelter, just shy of six miles away. Rain starts in earnest at 8:30 and continues on and off day, sometimes vigorously and with brisk wind. The rain is part of the Trail, and we've been lucky so far to not have multiple days in a row, or getting stuck in a lightening storm, but it will happen. Regardless, it can be draining.

Not as many northbound hikers on the trail compared to the Smokies, and probably see as many southbound hikers today, but they are "just" doing sections.

Stop at the shelter and have a light lunch. Achin joins, and Good and Plenty (whom we have been running into every few days for a month) shows up slack packing 18 miles (!!!). She asks about the rocky section we did yesterday, which we explain, and she will likely avoid it.

The Trail had multiple tombstones today. Two were for Confederate soldiers, one apparently killed at Gettysburg (July 1, 1863), plus a thru hiker who had his ashes spread at mile 302. One other marker is unclear what the association is, plus two tombstones protected by a wire fence (looked old, but didn't attempt to read them).

Get to our shelter at 3:40 and am soaked. Set up tent but it's one of those days where things just don't stay put, stakes pop out, poles fall down. Crawl inside, put on spare dry clothes, and slide under sleeping bag to try and get warm. Stay there until Achin shows up and says, from outside my closed up tent, "did you eat yet?"

Yesterday we talked about doing a 20.7 mile day tomorrow, but both of us are a little beat up. There's a Trail Magic all-day at the next gap, 2.4 miles away, and a shelter less than eight miles from that. There's burgers! Hot dogs! All day! We decide to have a leisurely morning, dry everything out, then do the Magic.

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