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AT 2017: Day 101, Brink Road Shelter to Rutherford Shelter

These are days you'll remember

Hike with Gravity

I didn’t take many photos today. That shouldn’t be thought of as a reflection of a boring, uneventful day.

It was, in fact, memorable, but in ways that could not be captured with a camera.

Weather Hot and humid with a late afternoon rain shower
Trail Conditions Not too difficult, though rocky
Today's Miles 15.0 miles
Trip Miles 1,333.4 miles

The truth iis, there wasn’t much on the trail worth taking a picture, but that’s not why i didn’t take many photos. The real reason was because this was another hot, energy-sapping day.

Later, I tried to beat a rainstorm and didn’t want to take time for photos.

The day began much like yesterday ended, hot and hazy, and with a walk along a ridge line without much elevation change. After about 2.5 miles, I came to a grassy, open area. From there I could see Culvers Lake, but not much else because of the haze.

The trail descended to a road. Just down the road was a tavern, but it was much too early to stop for lunch, so I kept walking.

Later, after making a short and easy climb up to another ridge line, I walked past Culver Fire Tower. It looked just like the one I photographed yesterday, so I didn’t bother taking a picture today.

This was the start of a dull day, or so I thought.

The first eventful moment happened just after lunch. As I was walking through a wooded, mostly flat section I looked to my right. Then I had to take a second look to make sure I was seeing what I thought I was seeing.

It was a doe, sitting placidly between some fallen trees.

I walked slowly by, just observing her. She looked at me, but made no move to indicate she was alarmed by my presence.

Was she sick or hurt? Pregnant? I couldn’t tell, but that might be an explanation why she sat there so still.

Or maybe she was just feeling the effects of the heat and humidity. I know I was.

After continuing along the ridge the trail went up a short rise to Sunrise Mountain. A large pavilion was located here. The Honeymooners were here, but they left soon after I arrived.

I stayed here a few minutes, but the view was again obscured by the hazy sky.

The trail went directly over an old stone wall. I’m sure the farmer who spent uncounted hours in back-breaking toil to clear the land and construct the wall would be horrified to see us hikers trample over it.

When I arrived at Mashipacong Shelter, I was pleased to see Pippi and Radio there. We stood around and talked, mostly debating about whether or not we should continue on.

Pippi checked the weather radar from her phone and said it looked like it would rain by 7 p.m. If we moved fast enough, we thought, we could reach the next shelter, 2.6 miles away.

Radio decided to stay, but Pippi and I figured it was worth getting in a few more miles. I didn’t leave right away, though, because I was low on water.

The shelter maintainer had left behind several large containers of water because there was no reliable water source here. I filled up just enough to get me to the next shelter. I didn’t want to take more than I needed because of the limited supply.

Pippi’s estimate for the start of rain wasn’t quite as accurate as we had hoped. A moderately heavy shower started at 6:20 p.m.

She carries a hammock, and soon I saw that she had already stopped and quickly set it up for the night, about a mile before the shelter. As I walked by I shouted, “Goodnight, Pippi!” but I doubted she heard me because of the rain hitting her tarp.

It was still raining when I reached Rutherford Shelter. Stick was inside, just starting to prepare dinner. A section hiker named Arun was also there.

This was Arun’s first time backpacking on the AT, so he had many questions for us.

As soon as I had finished cooking dinner the rain stopped. It was perfect timing, allowing me to set up my tent without getting wet.

The day didn’t end nearly as dull as I thought it would be. The unusual sight of a doe sitting near the trail and the opportunity to visit with Radio and Pippi were nice highlights.

But those events weren’t what made this day especially memorable.

The first was the few minutes I spent talking to a group of young women from a summer camp. I could tell they were working together to keep each other motivated and going on this hot and uncomfortable day. For most of them, this was their first backpacking trip.

Later I passed a group of African American kids, also on their first backpacking trip. When I asked if they were having fun, most of them grudgingly answered yes.

Add to these encounters our conversation with Arun, another first-time backpacker. It was gratifying to see so many young people experience a little bit of what I’m experiencing. Not all of their experiences are enjoyable, but these times combine to make memories, build relationships and strengthen confidence.

No, I didn’t need photos to help me remember this day.

These are days you'll remember
Never before and never since, I promise
Will the whole world be warm as this
And as you feel it

You'll know it's true
That you are blessed and lucky
It's true, that you are touched by something
That will grow and bloom in you


"Nothing to tell now. Let the words be yours, I'm done with mine." ref.