We woke up and hit the trail by 8:00. Scout and Sun left early and I followed a half hour behind with Dirty Duck and Mishap. The hiking was pretty easy most of the morning. We were trying to hit this swimming hole around lunch since it was so hot. We hiked 7 or 8 miles and met up with the others at the swimming hole. The water was freezing but refreshing. Scout, Sun, and Catfish left early again to tackle the mountain looming over all of our afternoons. Cole Mountain is 4000 feet with our starting point at 1000 feet. Dirty Duck, Mishap, and I found ourselves at the shelter waiting a little for it to cool down. At three it was clear to me that they were working themselves into hiking it in the morning and staying at the shelter.
So I saddled up and headed up the mountain at 3:00. What a relentless death march that was it the 90 degree heat. I stopped six or seven times over the three hours it took me to climb it. Some of it was near vertical scramble over loose rock– my favorite. I listened to two History on Fire podcasts while inched up the mountain. Some day hikers coming down the mountain gave their water or I wouldn’t have made it. I drank my two liters plus the extra liter they gave me. I sweat through every inch of all of my clothes down to my socks. After getting to the top I hurriedly hiked down the other side the four miles to the next water. I arrived at a stealth camp, found Scout and Sun at 8 pm, and learned that the spring was over a half mile away. I got back loaded with water at 845 and set my tent up in the dark. This heat sure does make the climbing harder. I may have to try night hiking if it gets much hotter.
I crossed the 800 mile marker today. The mile numbers are definitely becoming an abstraction– I can’t believe I have to walk another 1250 miles. One step at a time, right? I am looking forward to taking a zero in waynesboro. For tomorrow I will try to pull a twenty. Happy trails.