There had been a big storm predicted to start today but the forecast was looking better this morning, only partly cloudy listed on my AT Weather app, so we headed out. We caught the free 10am shuttle from NOC and got back up to Newfound Gap. We were hiking slowly, weighed down with 5 days of food. We stopped only a mile or two in for first lunch then continued to the first shelter, Icewater Spring Shelter.
The weather was sunny and clear so we didn’t expect any rain soon but there were other hikers taking a zero at the shelter because of the storm predictions. They were listening to a weather radio which made it sound dire – sudden thunder storms with tornadoes and hail coming in the afternoon! Someone also said a ranger at Newfound Gap said the storm was coming at 2:00. It was 1:00 and suddenly there was cold wind and dark clouds moving in as we listened to the radio so we decided that despite only hiking 3 miles today, the smart move would be to stay since the next shelter was 8 miles out and we were moving slowly.
I grabbed a spot in the shelter and started collecting dry firewood before the rain, thinking it’d be nice to have a fire in the shelter fireplace if it’s storming all night. There were slim pickings for wood, mostly little sticks, so I eventually gave up. More hikers kept coming in and deciding to stay, and meanwhile it’s getting later and still sunny and clear. Saint Nick and Duct Tape went to collect firewood and stumbled across a shopping bag full of an unopened box of wine, an un-nibbled on Pay Day bar, and a Duraflame firestarter! We had just been saying if we knew we were doing a nero, we would have hiked a bag of wine in. Trail magic strikes again! Chardonnay to class up the shelter.
It eventually rained for about 5 minutes at 6:00, but it’s dry right now. We definitely could have made it to the next shelter with time to spare but we had a good day hanging out and socializing any way.