March 29 - Plum Orchard Shelter

As expected, rain arrived overnight and it was raining this morning. Woke at 6, and was pretty much packed and waiting in the hostel's common room for breakfast at 640.  Enjoy some coffee while talking with others while waiting. Breakfast is a little bit of disappointment, lots of carbs but low protein. Take the shuttle the half mile back to Dicks Gap, and Bob is telling us the only time he's been concerned with hypothermia was during conditions we're going in to - rain and possibly 60 mph winds.

On trail at 805 with just Achin. Trudger concerned about rain and possible heavy winds and is staying another night. Achin and I agree to meet at first shelter and see how things are going. I arrive first, it has been raining the whole time and made the four miles in about 1:40. Am concerned with winds, Bobs warning about wind, hypothermia and the limits of upcoming shelters, and decide to stop here. Wait 20 minutes for Akin to meet at blue blaze trail to shelter, but getting cold, create a sign using branches with his name and arrow toward shelter path, and head towards it.

Mutton Chops and Big Shep are here, and the shelter fills quickly, full at 2. Achin doesn't show up so assume he missed my makeshift sign and went to the next shelter, seven miles away. Most coming to this shelter are dropping in here for the same reasons as I. This is a great shelter, three levels so climb up to top level figuring, correctly, it will be most sheltered.

Little frustrated when I review my overall progress and only doing 6.7 miles average over 11 days, versus my at-home plan of 8.  I know this is not a race, but still.

Good group here, mostly 20s and the spirits are high. Intend to get up tomorrow and head to two shelters away, about 12.2 miles. Need to do that three days in a row to get near Franklin TN. Realized I under bought entrees, and will likely be quite hungry by then.


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