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Day 44: Barn Owls in a Blackberry Spring

CeeCee said if we were early risers, we wouldn't get breakfast. Luckily for us, none of us are early risers. Breakfast did take a while, but only because CeeCee made eggs for everyone exactly as they wanted them, two at a time. Let us say, that the breakfast was delicious. The grits (from scratch not instant) were oh so buttery, our entire digestive track felt oily. Gadget kept telling everyone to put a bit of sugar on their grits to make them extra special, and CeeCee would, every time, go up in arms and call such desires sacrilege. The coffee was also very strong and kept coming. Eventually though, we had to get going. We packed up and tried to find a spot to use a real toilet among the fifteen people all vying for positions. One fiberless took about 40 minutes doing God knows what, so we didn't actually make it back to the trail (again .6 miles away) until noon. We all had to give CeeCee a hug before we left though. She's a brave woman. 

Today, we, as well as Seth Rogan and Haand Solo were all shooting for Overmountain Shelter about 17 miles away. A noon start seemed nonideal for the venture, but we move a lot faster these days. Spike and Bambi were going to try, but they were starting later than us and Bambi's ankle, while better, may not be up to the task. It was another cold day, but sunny. When the wind wasn't whipping across the mountain, we actually approached warm. It was a bit too cold for light hiking gear, and too warm for shells and down. So we kept it light and moved fast. At one of the first gaps we came to we met High Life for the first time (his name might have to do with the beer, but he says he never used to drink it much but now he only buys it on principle). We had seen him a number of times but never formally met. He's pretty tall, so he could move over the cold mud and puddles a lot better. Especially when we all started to ascend Roan and, once again, for the second time in three days, we came across snow. We also visited the site if the Cloudland Hotel. There's an info plaque, old foundatiims, and a chimney, which is all that's left of the fancy Cloud and Hotel from the 1800s. It was torn down in the early 1900s (1914?), but boasted quite the grandiose building. Also the North Carolina Tennessee border ran through the middle, marked by a line, and legend has it that a sheriff used to watch for people who accidentally carried their alcoholic beverages from the Tennessee side to the North Carolina side so he could fine them. Cheeky buggar!

*High Life is there hiding in the bushes

 Anyway, luckily for us, Roan Mountain marks the last time we cross 6000 feet until Mount Washington. This high elevation meant we were finally able to get some cell reception again. Verizon rules the trail, not at&t. Tyler's parents are meeting us in Damascus to visit and get some backpacking in, and we finally got the details of their arrival! As we hiked, we lost cell reception, but we hoped that in the lower elevation we would at least find springtime. Speaking of which, early in the hike we met a local who said we are experiencing a Blackberry Spring since winter is pushing into Spring. We want to learn more about this phrase. Is that what New England has every year? After Roan Mountain, where we witnessed day hikers in full coats and hats and pants as Tyler hiked by in shorts and a t-shirt and Emily in pants and a t-shirt, we reached Carver's Gap. Here the coats had to go back on. The wind roared up the road and we cooled down since we had a snack and used an honest to goodness outhouse. The last obstacles before the shelter, and our protection from the nighttime thunder (that looked nowhere in sight) were two balds.  

At this point it was 5:30, and we had just over five miles to go. It's go time. Though we had the unfortunate dilemma of staying warm now, or moving fast and creating a self made sauna in our warm clothes. We shed layers later and made it over the balds, which offered spectacular views of the surrounding area. After the first one, the wind let up a bit, so we were even able to stay fairly warm. We made it to Overmountain Shelter by 7:35, and met up with Haand Solo and Seth Rogan, our snuggle partners for the night. Not that we needed to. Overmountain Shelter is an immense converted barn that looked like it could easily host 30 hikers. We attempted our own quesadillas with Slim Jim's and cheese sticks and made plans for our trip to Roan Mountain the town where AT folklore has built up the breakfast at Mountain Harbor and the Holy Cow burger at Bob's Dairyland to stomach rumbling, bucket of drool proprtions. 

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