The early afternoon stop with Huck and Ray was exactly what I needed. It gave us a chance to leisurely sit around and talk and my knee a much needed time to rest. Ray’s mother was going to meet her in Damascus in a few days and they began to calculate a plan to to land in the same place at the same time. I can tell you that coordinating a meeting with someone on the trail is no easy task.
With some adding and subtracting we determined that if we hiked 12.55 miles per day for four days we could meet her at TU 91 on Sunday. The mileage was doable but by then the weather was reporting that Sunday would be a washout. We adjusted to attempting 15 +- a day and then only having a short hike on Sunday. At the time the weather was not going to become lousy until later in the day. The question for me was whether or not my knee would handle that kind of mileage.
On the 12th we planned on making it to Moreland Gap Shelter which was 14.8 miles away. The terrain was not especially bad with a low elevation of 2,691 feet and a high of 3,908 feet. In between there were many ups and downs but all within those elevations. We began the day on the same planet but that did not last long. I limped along behind them. At one point we joined up and side hiked to Jones Falls which was impressive. I met Murphy who had spent time with us in Hot Springs along the way. Ironman was there and a young man named Wu-tang passed me later in the day.
Lunch was at Mountaineer Shelter and by then my knee was giving problems. I fell more and more behind but the bigger problem on this day was that I had to stop to call Allstate Insurance to work out a change on my vehicle insurance. That little bit of business cost me more than an hour out of a day that my damaged knee would already be challenged on to hit 14.8 miles.
Luckily daughter Whitney came through for me with the information that I needed. I didn’t know it at the time but my phone was about to become compromised. Evidently the battery was dying. Battery problems are not easy and each answer I got with multiple calls all resulted in resolutions that required days or a new phone. When it died the next day I lost all of my pictures taken since the last time it was plugged in at Oscar and Jackie’s…..thus no pictures for this day and the next.
I’ve actually forgotten the happenings of most of this day. The knee problem had become the main focus of the hike. By 7:20 P.M. I managed to hike into to Moreland Gap Shelter. There I found Huck and Ray setting up in the shelter. That was fine with me. I didn’t feel like setting up the tent. I hiked down to a water supply and got water from a spring well below the shelter. Supper done we once again conversed and decided that the next days hike would be 14.5 miles to a tent site just short of U.S. 321. By that time I felt that bailing at that point might be the plan I needed to follow.
Sleep came quickly…..I was awoken several times even though there were only 5 of us there. A noise above Huck’s head distracted me. It sounded like someone opening Christmas presents. It took awhile but between Huck and I it was determined that it was a mouse above his head attempting to get into a Ziplock bag above Huck’s head. I left the mouse to it and was shocked when the next time I opened my eyes it was well beyond daylight. It was time to hike on……and U.S. Highway 321 seemed a million miles away.