This may have been a turning point or it may be a combination of a better fitting pack, trail legs, and sections of trail which I didn’t have to worry as much about my foot. There still were climbs but they seemed more manageable. In between were sections I just picked up my poles and walked naturally. I seem to have a better pace in those conditions. I left Glasgow and had a comparatively gentle start climbing 2700 ft. Up Bluff Mtn. It was foggy and damp but the rain held off for the most part. Here are some of the views.
Here are a few views along the way to the top of Bluff Mountain.After this I arrived at the top just before the rain started. I came upon a monument that marked where a 4 year old boy had wandered away from school and was found the next spring. The monument marks the exact spot.
So sad, I said a prayer for him before leaving. He remained in my thoughts for several days.
The rain picked up so I put on my rain jacket and headed 700 ft. down to Punchbowl Shelter. The sun came out at 5 or 6. Ate and filtered water before going to bed. Shoes did good but got pretty wet. Also even though the climb was 2700 ft. the trail seemed easier. Stronger legs? I needed that! I did apply a couple of bandages at lunch to my left foot. For whatever reason the next day I experienced no issues.
The next morning we set our sites on Cow Camp Gap Shelter. I was now hiking with Jed Morgansen. That’s his trail name. We got there at 3:00 in the afternoon. After discussing with Jed he suggested going only 2.2 miles further. The trail crosses Hwy. 60 at that point which leads to Buena Vista. I could use a little drying out so I agreed and we split a hotel room. By doing so we put off the next 700 ft. Climb until the morning. It worked out well and unknown to me now, even more so later in the week. The negative is that in town is where you spend money. If your not careful your budget goes south pretty fast. In the morning we headed back to where we left off and off to Hog Camp Gap. Only six miles away but we didn’t start till 10 in the morning. The climb was another surprise. It was difficult but I handled it fairly well. We passed the shelter we intended to stay at and went on to Hog Camp Gap Shelter. This day included the most beautiful view I had seen up to this point. Cole Mountain. Here are some pictures and maybe a video.
I had made some more pack adjustments and everything seems to be working. Even the shoes😎. However that night I had a big scare. My right side between the shoulder and the neck had become swollen at some point. I woke up in the middle of the night and could not raise my head without severe pain. Even moving my arms caused severe pain. If not for the pain I would have thought I was paralyzed. The only way I could sit up was to turn my head to the left and get my hand under my face lifting my head as I raised up. Once up it seemed ok except when turning my head to the right. I took some ibuprofen and lay back down eventually switching my sleeping bag 180 degrees. This elevated my head some and I was able to sleep. In the morning it was sore but once upright seemed ok. There were many hikers at Hog Camp Gap including Goodun from Germany,Cherry from Denmark, a group of 4 guys from Alabama,
The night was warm and everyone started stirring around at 5:30 making breakfast and packing up. I was on the trail by 7:30the next morning toward The Priest Shelter 14.3 miles away. Starting out on a pretty decent trail which turned ugly real fast. A series of low climbs (290-300 ft.). At the 8 mile mark it started to rain. I hurried to the Seeley-Woolworth Shelter to assess the situation and wait for Jed. I didn’t get too wet. We had a snack and the rain quit. But the trail turned rocky. I wasted time trying to climb Spy Rock on a side trail and never made it to the top. Got back on trail if you can call it that, a series of hard, steep rocky climbs for 4 miles. Then the Priest Mtn. Thankfully the shelter was 200 ft. short of the peak which was 800 feet. Everything on me hurt! Even my knees and achilles. Arrived with barely enough daylight to get set up and eat. I set my tent up 50 yards from the shelter and went to cook at the shelter. In the middle of dinner a rain came on quickly. I was with out my raincoat and in my only set of dry clothes. Eventually I had to run back to the tent to retrieve it. What I found was another issue. I had put my gear in the tent and it pushed the mesh doorway past the awning on the tent. Water had pooled in one corner. I spent some time mopping up the water put on my raincoat. Happy everything was buttoned up I went back to finish dinner and hide my bear canister. The rain turned into a deluge. Eventually the fog was so thick I would have a hard time finding my tent. Especially as the campground was a lake. Every one of the 6 tents had 3 to 5 inches of water under and around it. I had to make a big arc just to get mine. I would say mine had 3 inches of water but none inside. That ZPacks bathtub floor did its job. During the night my sleeping pad slid up against the door and my foot box on the bag was wet. Very wet. Others were worse, all their gear was soaked. Nothing to do but move on and maybe dry things out a little at lunch.