The Burnt Forest
24th April 2017
Bushcamp (115.9) to Rufus Morgan Shelter (136)
The intense rain of yesterday had all but disappeared. I was woken by the calls of birds and the few stray drops of water from the trees above. Thick cloud enveloped the area and made the cool air even cooler.
I had a small climb up to the top of Wayah Bald. As I climbed I passed a wayward camper just rousing for the morning, then another and yet more. People were camping on whatever flat dry piece of land they could find, much as I had done the evening before. I think last night was a hard night fir some hikers.
I reached Wayah Bald just as the clouds parted for a few seconds to reveal a lovely view of green forest and silvery grey clouds. I cooked up a second breakfast in the hope that the view would return. It did not. Wayah Bald is a corruption of the Cherokee name for wolf, Wa-Ya. Red Wolves were once common in this area, but are no longer found in the area.
I descended past a shelter that still had many hikers drying out their gear as witnessed by the multicoloured fly sheets on any tree branch that would hold them. I bumped into a group of 5 hikers I’d met about 4 days ago. I was traveling much faster than them so I had to ask how they got ahead. They skipped a section due to an injury one of them sustained. There are so many hikers on this trail getting injured. The constant climbing and descending is taking its toll.
There were a lot of fire scared sections of trail today. Most of which looked very recent. I’m not sure how long the forest starts to regenerate in this part of the world, is it a year or ten years. Either way I don’t think fire is very common in this part of the world.
I cruised down the long downhill to Rufus Morgan Shelter. There were only 5 other hikers staying here which was surprising, I expected the usual 20 plus. With a couple of hours of sunlight left we all chatted about the trail and our hopes of finishing. I’m really in a good place right now. My body feels strong, I’m motivated to be out on the trail in all weather and I’m enjoying meeting other hikers, even if I’m moving faster than them and won’t see them again. All the talk around camp is about the big climb tomorrow, it’s one of the biggest on the whole Appalachian Trail at around 8 miles long and just over 3000 vertical feet. Until tomorrow.
Almost a view
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