AT 2017: Day 142, Garfield Pond to Stealth Tent Site at Mile 1833.6

Never mind how I stumble and fall

The weather was chilly this morning when we woke up. Our campsite above Garfield Pond was located at nearly 3,900 feet in elevation, so the cool air wasn’t a surprise. Still, it seemed this was unseasonably cool.

We’re now at the end of August, and back home in Tennessee the weather would still feel hot and muggy. Here, it feels like fall is moving in.

Or maybe a storm is moving in. When I last checked the forecast, that seemed to be a possibility.

DateThursday, August 31, 2017
WeatherCloudy and cool, then clearing and warmer with a high temperature in the upper 60s
Trail ConditionsRocky ascents and descents, but not as difficult as recent days
Today's Miles7.5
Trip Miles1833.6

As we were packing our gear to get back on the trail, Frodo and Samwise told us they were planning to avoid the storm by staying at a cabin. Samwise was talking about a craving for spaghetti, and said he wanted to put together a big dinner.

They invited us to join them, but their plans seemed a little vague.

The climb up Mt. Garfield was rocky and steep, but it wasn’t as bad as we expected. That’s not to say we regretted our decision to stop before trying to go over it late yesterday as daylight was fading.

Making the climb was a good way to get warmed up quickly. Long before I reached the top I took off the fleece hoodie I had been wearing. Instead of putting it in my pack I attached it to the outside.

The summit of Mt. Garfield would normally provide some nice views if the weather was good, but the cloudy, damp air diminished them. The views were so blah I didn’t bother to take many pictures from there.

Years ago, the top of the 4,500-foot mountain held a fire tower. After the tower became obsolete it was removed, but a concrete foundation still remains.

As we were making the descent from Mt. Garfield, I fell awkwardly. The fall was almost in slow motion as I tried to land without hurting myself. The effort accomplished that intent, but in the process my hip landed on my left trekking pole, snapping the pole in half.

When I picked myself up I failed to notice my hoodie had fallen off my pack. I continued hiking down the mountain, but a few minutes later Gimli caught up to me. He was carrying my hoodie.

This was much like when Jellybean had picked up my lost shirt six days ago. I decided I needed to be more conscious of my surroundings when I fall. Or better yet, I should just try harder to avoid falling.

The trail went down toward Galehead Hut, but before reaching it made a short climb up a knob. From the top we could see Galehead and South Twin mountains. The trail doesn’t go over the first mountain, but does go over the second.

After the knob the trail dropped down to Galehead Hut, another of the huts operated by the Appalachian Mountain Club.

When Ralph and I arrived, Gimli was sitting on the porch. I thanked him again for alertly picking up my hoodie.

We then walked into the hut and I spotted a pair of new trekking poles hanging on the wall. Until this moment I had not realized hiker items such as these were sold at the huts. I bought a bowl of potato dill soup and a pair of Leki poles.

This was a surprisingly fortunate discovery. After breaking my trekking pole, I only had to walk two-and-a-half hours before being able to buy a replacement pair. Better yet, thru-hikers are given a ten percent discount off the purchase price of items like that.

The huts don’t have an internet connection, so to take my credit card information the croo member had to run my card through one of those old devices that makes a carbon impression of the raised letters. I hadn’t seen one of those in years.

The croo member told me that the receipts are taken once a week down the mountain, so it would be a while before the charge showed up on my account.

Leaving the hut with my new poles, Ralph and I followed the trail as it made a rocky climb up South Twin Mountain.

The peak was surrounded by scrubby spruce trees. Reaching the top involved scaling large boulders.

By now the clouds had mostly cleared and the sun was shining. This made views from the 4,902-foot mountain much more enjoyable.

Ralph and I stayed at the top for several minutes to enjoy the views and soak in some of the sun.

Later, the trail took us up and over Mt. Guyot. As I noted when I was hiking through Great Smoky Mountains National Park back in April, this was the other mountain the trail goes over that is named for the famed Swiss geographer Arnold Henry Guyot.

At 4,560 feet high, this Mt. Guyot isn't nearly as high as the one in the Smokies. And though it is higher than 4,000 feet, it's not named on the Appalachian Mountain Club's "four-thousand footer" list because its peak is located less than 200 feet from the pass that separates it from South Twin Mountain.

I lost track of Ralph going over this mountain. I didn’t know until he caught up to me that he had made a wrong turn and got sidetracked behind me. He must not have strayed off too far, though, because it didn’t take him long to catch up to me.

Before long he passed me again and was out of my sight. I thought he must have had a lot more energy than me, but soon I discovered he hadn't gone far ahead of me.

When I caught up to him I saw he had pulled off the trail. He stopped because he found what he was looking for, a stealth campsite. It was just barely large enough for two tents.

I didn’t protest for stopping because I was tired too. We tightly squeezed our tents in among the spruce trees.

After we had cooked dinner, Brook walked by. I hadn’t seen him since we completed the Shenandoah Mountains in Virginia. The sky was turning dark and we pointed out a spot were he might be able to squeeze in another tent, but he said he wanted to keep going.

I remembered later that Brook always seemed to prefer camping away from other hikers and often hiked at night.

There was enough of a cellular connection available here to check the weather, and it was not looking any better than the last time I saw it.

Ralph and I decided Gimli, Frodo and Samwise’s idea of staying in a cabin tomorrow seemed like a good one.

'Cause when he's charging his chopper
Up and down your carpeted halls
You will think me by contrast quite proper
Never mind how I stumble and fall
Never mind how I stumble and fall

From "Hell In A Bucket” by John Barlow, Bob Weir and Brent Mydland (Grateful Dead)

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