NCT Mile 89 to 104.5

If you ever have the opportunity to start a day off with Mountain House biscuits and gravy, do it.  So good.  The Breakfast Skillet is excellent, but the biscuits and gravy is where it’s at.

Our morning began with a text from Papa Bear warning us that “rain is headed up your ass today.”  We broke camp down in record time and headed out.  There’s nothing like the threat of a nature enema to get the motor up and running.  The first couple hours was a good push of miles and somewhat hazy views, and then it hit… rain enema.

The miles were slower but our attitudes were positive.  Fun fact, today is the first day Brianna and I have had to hike in the rain on the NCT.  That’s roughly 18 days without day rain.  Things got a little less positive a couple of hours in the rain.  Brianna was leading through a mud bog and said, “it’s really deep over there.”  That’s exactly when her weight shifted awkwardly backwards and fell onto her butt in the knee deep water.  I was close enough to watch it unfold very clearly, too far away to grab her or do anything to stop the slow moving train wreck.  Everything from the point on was a new kind of struggle.

Rain crashed down so heavily that my rain coat reached it’s limit and drenched me to the core.  All the trails were a quick path for the water to travel and became new streams.  Each step took a lot of energy, but again, we had no other options.  Stop walking and you’re too cold.  Put the tent up and your still cold, gear is probably wet, what’s the plan after that?

We pushed on through the rain to a parking lot at the Norwich road trail intersection where our amazing hiking partners, Ric and Shauna, had left us a resupply cache filled with clean water and Thermacell fuel.  You might think fresh water isn’t a big deal in the rain, but it’s the difference between filtering water in the cold or quickly pouring it into your bottle.  We love our trail angels.

Lunch was an adventure in itself.  Brianna has the amazing idea to use our Tyvek ground sheet as a makeshift rain shelter.  It took a couple tries but it worked, kept us and our gear mostly out of the rain.  Brianna cooked a hot lunch of Mac & Cheese w/ tuna.  We would have stayed longer and enjoyed not getting rained on but the wind and the cold made that unpleasant.  We are our own best heaters, time to march on.

Two notable things did happen during all the rain.

Thing 1: We ran into a west bound hiker near an old mining town.  He is heading towards the Wisconsin Michigan border, tries to do a new NCT section every year.  We didn’t get to talk long, both shivering cold.

Thing 2: We came across a monster stream that would usually have been hopping stone easy to cross.  All of the trail rain and rain from the mountain converged at this one stream and made it impassable.  Our only choice was to walk up stream until we found a down tree and walked over that.  All the time we spend in the woods has finally paid off!  Seriously, this stream was raging.  I don’t think I have a picture to post because pictures in the rain are just not easy or high priority.

Tonight we are camping off the side of a two track park trail.  It’s not ideal but it’s home.  We are only 14.5 miles from the car.  If we can make it there tomorrow, it will be a full day ahead of schedule and we are going to take a 0 mile day to rest my feet and Brianna’s knee.  Wish us luck!