Appalachian Trail Mile 1783.1

Saturday, September 7, 2017 (Day 128)

Oh, how I love sleep! But rise, I must!

Five miles in to my hike, I reached the summit of Smart Mountain. I climbed the lookout tower. The sun was shining. Puffy clouds cast shadows over the tree covered mountain tops. The wind whipped through the metal tower. The view was amazing.

I descended the mountain. The descent was far less steep than the climb. The trail crossed brooks and ledges before it ascended, yet again, up Cube Mountain. As I was nearing the junction for the Hexacuba Shelter, there was a sudden downpour. I was still 1.6 miles from the summit. I decided to take the side trail uphill to the shelter, and let the rain pass.

After 15 minutes or so, the rain diminished. I hurried back to the trail and up the mountain.

The climb was full of slanted ledges and wide expanses of overlapping stone. I gazed out below in awe. The views were captivating.

As I neared the summit, I saw the hiker from Moose Mountain, tucked away in their tent. I commented on the beauty of the climb. They said that they had not seen it. They had climbed the stone slabs in the fog and rain. It seemed ducking in to the shelter to let the rain pass was a good decision after all. I bid them a good night and moved quickly towards the mountain top, in hopes of catching the sunset.

I reached the top, bathed in the beautiful afterglow of the suns departure.

Now to face the descent. I had yet to think that far ahead. I hoped it would not prove as steep or challenging as the climb. It was dark, as I reentered the woods. The descent was gradual, with a trail of mostly earth and pine, solid and unmoving.

I stopped beside a stream to collect water and break for a moment. The water flowed freely, murmuring as it passed over smooth silver stones. I looked to the sky. I spotted a bright star, and another. I was thrilled.  With starlight came the promise of a clear night. I was motivated to continue.

I came to Cape Moonshine Road. I had heard of the “Omelette Guy” long ago. A man who posts up on trail and makes unlimited omelettes for hikers. It was said that he stationed himself near this road crossing. I do not eat omelettes, but I had heard rumor of juice and bananas. The Omelette Guy was quite a big deal amongst hikers. Needless to say, I was curious.

I decided to sleep in the dirt parking area by the road. I did not set up my tent. I gazed at the giant orange moon and stars in the distance. Moisture fell from the limbs of trees. I trusted that it would not rain from the sky.

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