April 4 - Wylah Bald Helter (120.6)

The expected raIn doesn't come at night, and on the trail 730. Trail starts out like other days, and begin to see similarities. Whether up or down, clear or deeply rooted, it has a sameness to it, and can understand why hikers can become bored. Spend time on each hike looking at the "AWOL Guide", which almost all hikers are using, which provides distances, elevations, detail on what's at various points (water, privies, bear cables, shelter, camping, resupply, etc.). 

Like many hikers, I'm not carrying the whole Guide, but about 500 miles folded in half and placed in a zip lock bag. As pages become useless after passing through an area, they are burned or trashed - no sentimentality when managing even modest weight. 

The rain arrives around 9 AM and increases in volume as the wind in turn picks up, so move through it after switching out my fleece for my LL Bean rain slicker. Achin and I don't hike together generally, but start together, agree on places to meet, but I am now faster on inclines and he on declines. So trooping in the rain is a solo task.

Arrive near the top of Wylah Bald and am met with trail magic by "a retired guy who doesn't like TV much". The storm is starting to dissipate but it is raw and cold as the wind keeps up. Juice, fruit, Pringles all are a great boost after doing 1,000 feet In elevation. Continue on to the the stone tower which the bald is known for, and to this point a rarity in that it is accessible by cars. No tourists are there now, and learn that the tower was built in 1934 in memory of John Bernard Byrne, an early Forest Supervisor. Dropping my bag and climbing up, can see the vestiges of the storm wandering away and a great view of the surrounding area.

Make it to the shelter about 45 minutes later, and Achin arrives 20 minutes after that. Mutton Chops is here getting a fire ready, he took a zero today after waking late. It is cold here, wind still blowing and shift out of wet clothes and into sleeping bag to warm up. We both stay in the shelter, which is crowded, and being crowded I spend a good part of the night pressed up against the side of the shelter. 


  1. I took Mother shopping with me on Saturday, maybe covered ten city blocks of walking. :)

  2. Jeff, we are reading your blog while sailing and working in the British Virgin Islands. What a great adventure you are on and we really enjoy the updates. The challenges you face and the people you meet are so interesting. Quite a community. Know we are thinking of you, trust you are safe and keep writing man...it's great stuff...


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