Appalachian Trail: Mile 86.0; 4752 ft.; 5/12/17; 2053

Hello, North Carolina! Oh. How lovely it is to reach another state (though it becomes exceptionally apparent how arbitrary borders are when you cross them in the wilderness).

Today was a wonderful day! I caught the 9am shuttle back to the trail and got going at about 9:30 this morning. Rain and thunderstorms were in the forecast for today and tomorrow. This time, I was prepared. I was wearing a rain jacket and Frogtog pants and had my pack cover on. I should have known I would be too hot. Not 10 minutes into my hike I had to stop and remove them. There was no sign of rain at that point and it had become far too warm beneath the unbreathable material. The afternoon actually proved to be fairly sunny.

There was quite a bit of climbing today. Once in a while there was a clearing that allowed for lovely views.

This snake was on the trail after a stream crossing:

I passed through many beautiful tunnels of trees.

At about 5pm the sky grew darker and there were frequent claps of thunder. It began to sprinkle. I noticed that many people had set up camp for the night. I dawned my rain gear and pressed on.  I am very pleased with my decision. The trail became very rocky, running along the ridge of the mountain. It would have been slightly dangerous in the rain. The rain did not come again, save for two tiny spurts, in increments no longer than 30 seconds. I have set up camp six miles north of where I first heard thunder. It is still not raining. I have set up my tent nonetheless. The sky is heavy. It could rain at any moment.

I am distracted by a howling, then a cackle and growl. Is it a wolf? A coyote? I am not so certain if there are wolves here. I know they have all vanished from California. It is quite loud. It is near. It sounded as though it was fighting, or in pain. I feel so lucky to be amongst the wild things. Now, silence again.

My legs are very sore. It feels wonderful. I am gaining momentum. I feel stronger and more motivated. This is when the fun truly begins!

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