Then, pack, breakfast, strike camp, pack, review hiking plan. 9:00, following white blazes again.
A recent blogger offered the opinion that maps are not necessary when you are hiking the Trail, because it is clearly blazed, well traveled, and well known. He was bombarded with posts disagreeing strongly, pointing out that being as little as 50 yards from the Trail can get you lost if you don't know where you are. So, yes, Carry Paper Maps, know how to use them, and do not depend on GPS.
(This is the second reason that the AT is endangered. Even if the developers can be held at bay, well meaning hikers get casual about carrying enough equipment and WATER to stay safe. Rescue squads identify the Trail as a significant cause of injury, legislative bodies add even more constraints ... I am trying to get done before they put in the first McDonalds or Starbucks.)
On the way up to the ridge, I saw a fast-moving pair of large furry ears about 40 yards ahead racing upslope toward the trail -- a bear, a young one!
I took the encounter as a good reason for a five minute climbing break, make sure there was time for the youth and possibly a maternal guardian to go ahead. Not that I needed any reason to stop climbing for a bit, huff, wheeze .... After a while I started forward again, singing loudly and enthusiastically, while some artistic license for the lyrics I have forgotten. Very effective at repelling black bears, apparently, and fully understood given the size of their ears and my inability to stay on key.
Stopped at Cove Mountain Shelter after the climb. Leonard Adkins, the author of the series of books on the AT's history, was there with his spouse; he asked if I knew PATC's archivist Tom Johnson (I do not, though I hve heard his name mentioned).
Another 700 feet to cross Cove Mountain tomorrow, then a string off ups and downs to reach Wilson Creek. Life is good.