One of the other three section hikers was headed south like me in the morning. We needed an early start to get down to Jennings Gap 800 feet below and back up 900 feet to Bryant Ridge, so we tiptoed through the forest of huddled sleepers to make breakfast, gather our gear, and say farewll to the couple headed up the steep slopes we had just descended.
Our walk was not as long as their climb, and the weather turned warm enough that we both stripped down to summer hiking gear at the summit of Fork Mountain. At Jennings Creek, we purified extra water to get across some 9 miles without water sources. Oh joy, more weight to carry uphill ... and the climb was in my least favorite conditions, clear sunny day beating down on an east-facing slope.
Yes, I realize I was grousing about hail a few days ago. It's a Shenandoah thing -- if you don't like the weather, wait a bit, there'll be something worse.
By the time I reached Cove Mountain Shelter, most of my body was screaming for an end to all this going up and down all day in unseasonable weather. It was good to see the turn and limp down the slope once again, seeing the comfy place where I pitched my tent last year, the tree where I hung my bear bag perfectly with a single throw.
|Cove Mountain sunset|
|Cove Mountain moonrise|
The shelter is not one of the best maintained and does not have a water source, but -- given complaints from various muscles and joints, I updated my travel plan and inventoried my food supplies to see if I could spare another NOBO day.
Unfortunately, the counting showed that I was already over budget foodwise, without enough to reach Daleville! I had cut back to bare minimums as a weight saving strategy for the Thunder Ridge climbs, and then lost most of my contingency options when I forgot my tuna packs. Argh. Time to get off trail....
Fortunately, there is cell service off one cliff edge near Cove Mountain, so I had no problem arranging a shuttle for tomorrow. I plan to stay in Roanoke for Easter week, and then keep moving south toward Damascus, deep in the moutain fastness of southwest-est Virginia.
With extra food.