Ah yes. They did in fact snore. All three of them. Milo struggled to keep up but in between the trebles and the bass his squeaky little snores and sniffs filled the would be quiet space. The four of us didn't really sleep, as we would discuss later in the day. We shuffled around on our sleeping pads. Trying to cover our faces from the mosquitoes but also over prepared and sweating from our 20 degree bags, we couldn't find a balance of comfort. The wooden floors vibrated as the snores bounced around the timber frame walls. The Snorchestra as Nomad would later name them, and Milo was a newer musician trying to keep up.
As light finally began to arrive to the valley, we all took it as time to get up. Realistically, we were all probably tired of laying around and a failed sleep. At 6am, we all shot up and started getting ready. We were on trail by 7 and began our climb up Moxie. Upon arriving to the summit, we became socked in with a chilly fog. We scurried over the granite bald, trusting with each step that our tread would stick. A light rain started as we climbed down. We kept moving building speed as the terrain became flatter. We had a few fords that required us to get our feet wet. The water and current were not anything crazy so we crossed with ease, even Milo made it across without much trouble.
We had great conversations with Nomad and Rattles as we walked. Discussing everything from being a couple on trail, to fly fishing, and even how to better teach the next generation about the availability of the outdoors regardless of background. It was so nice to hike with like minded. They claimed that they were not slowing down for us, but we both knew better than to believe them.
We stopped for lunch after 13 miles at the Horseshoe Shelter. We were making great time and with a forecast of rain we decided to push to town. As soon as we left the shelter, the rain really picked up. We started moving even quicker with our heads down and not really talking much. Rattles and Nomad were ahead. Soaking wet and with a mile or so left, we took off running down trail. Garbelly running to keep up, hit a slick patch of granite and slid in his pack all the way down to where dirt trail picked back up. We made it to the highway around 4pm without any major injuries just cold and wet. Rattles and Nomad were waiting on their shuttle and before we had a chance to call and arrange a ride for us, a red station wagon pulled up and asked if we wanted a ride to town. We hopped in trying to contain the water dripping off of us. A former thru-hiker who lived in town, took a break from work to drive up to where trail crosses to see if any hikers needed a ride. Our timing of arriving to the highway just as he pulled up couldn't have been better. He took us into town and dropped us off at Shaw’s Hiker Hostel.
We were dripping wet as we stood inside Poet’s Gear Emporium waiting to check-in. We were shown to our private room in the Cottage, a stand alone building with lounge on the first floor and three rooms on the second floor. A tall woman with long curly blonde hair sat on the couches on the first floor. She was surrounded by paint, canvas and classic rock. Her name was Paint Splash and she was the resident artist staying in the Cottage with us.
We dropped our soaking wet packs in the room and headed to the main building for warm showers.
A southbounder, who was also hiking with a dog, was sitting in the lounge. She asked how much food we were carrying for Milo, and upon telling her, she quickly let us know how little that was compared to how much she had to carry for her dog.
“You guys have it easy,” she shot at us, annoyance neatly tucked away behind a polite smile.
No. It's just a matter of having a 50 lbs dog versus a 70 lbs dog.
Mountain Pappy, an older gentleman from Knoxville had wandered in and was sitting next to us. We talked with him for awhile discussing everything from trail to working in a gear shop to fly fishing and hiking on the Cumberland Plateau. We had heard about him from several days. When we had mentioned about being from Tennessee to people they had mentioned Mountain Pappy. It was exciting to finally meet him. He was hiking the 100 Mile Wilderness with his grandson who was flying up. Bad weather had delayed his flight, so Mountain Pappy was patiently waiting for news about his grandson’s arrival.
Poet walked in as we were heading out to dinner. Some people just have those personalities, you know the ones that can fill a room. These are the storytellers of our time, and Poet is a great storyteller. He is a person that when he speaks the room falls silent to listen even if he is telling a story about pooping off a cliff. We could have sat there all night listening to his stories from trail, but he had a few more tasks to do before turning in for the night and leaving the hostel to the hikers.
We too needed to get to dinner. It was still raining out and now a good bit cooler. We grabbed our down jackets and umbrellas and started walking to the restaurant. The Lakeshore House was were Rattles and Nomad were staying and it was also where the restaurant was.
We sat down with them at a table near the front. They were cleaned up and so were we. Dinner was delicious. We all ordered the same cider to drink and pick every last crumb off of our plates. After finishing and saying goodnight, we headed back up to Shaw’s. The rain had stopped, but the cold damp air chilled us to the bone. We walked swiftly.
Once back at Shaw’s, it didn't take long for us to get into bed and fall quickly to sleep.