To follow up on bear bags, the PCT method is super clever. Since explaining it with words would be confusing, Google it! Master Splinter also helped us out with medical tape for Emily's blisters, the dying gasp of the monstrous Merrills. The wondrous ridge runner said he would be in northern Pennsylvania from mid May to Labor Day, so we would have to at least make it that far to say hello. Also this morning we ran into Tinklebell, who now is going by Tenacious, since she powered on despite the blisters on the back of her heels. And to continue the serendipity, Greg, Andrew, and Bambiface, were also at the shelter. As usual, the greeting was made by Greg who sidled up to us before we knew he was there. He said they had been trying to pull big miles to avoid us, but they just can't seem to do it. This time they were actually trying to get some big miles to get to Newfound Gap and thereby Gatlinburg for some rest from the trail and rain (Greg and Andrew melt in the rain). They are good eggs and we are glad we caught them. We spent a fair amount of the day leapfrogging with them, but they pushed on at the end to the shelter beyond us. We did make plans to meet up on Gatlinburg since they would be making an extended stop there. We also met up with Hand Solo, who broke his hand back on Blue Mountain, and his mother, Tree Hugger. We had first seen them back before the Nantahala Outdoor Center, but twice, well, that bears learning names. The four of us all helped a pair of hikers, Michael and Caitlyn, figure out their packs. It was their first time backpacking and they were having some issues figuring out which order to tighten things and, unfortunately, had decided the waist straps were unnecessary. Yikes. Hopefully we were able to help, since Michael's pack was about thirty five pounds and he was complaining about shoulder pain. The day was fairly uneventful. The first six miles went by quickly and the last six were plagued by off and on rain and much worse steep ups and downs than we had anticipated. While on Rocky Top, we did get a great view of both Clingman's, which we will go over tomorrow, and Fontana Dam, from yesterday.
*Clingman's Dome of Doom- highest point on the AT
*Tyler at Rocky Top
*Rocky Top rock carvings
*From the shelter where we stopped for lunch
We made it to Derek Knob Shelter at around 6. A lot of the shelters in the Smokies don't have privies, only designated bathroom areas. They are horrible. Apparently no one knows how to dig a hole to bury their business, so the entire area is a minefield of toilet paper and poo gently sunning itself... Moving on, one of Emily's heels is still acting up, and since we were out of band aids and medical tape, we had to enlist the help of Tenacious, who was also staying at the shelter. She generously provided her medical expertise (acquired from her own Achilles blisters), band aids, and alcohol swabs.
*The wonderful blister fairy Tenacious (Walkie Talkie is there lurking in the background)
So we don't end on this bad note, we discovered Emily's camera had someone deleted all of the pictures from before Fontana. Luckily we had transferred many to the phone, but they were only the small files. It is a great tragedy, but, luckily it's still early in our travels. For a better note to end on, we finally saw some wildlife at this spot, probably attracted by the insane smell of the toilet area minefield. We heard some wild turkeys doing some wild gobblin', saw four deer, and heard some coyotes howling, yapping, and cackling (we are not sure how to describe coyote noises, but when they get excited it gets a little crazy). Still, all the howling helps to drown out the snores at these overcrowded shelters.
*Path leading to the shelter