We woke up to a pretty funny situation this morning. A family of raccoons invaded our tent site around 4 AM and ransacked anything that smelled of food. They started by knocking my JetBoil stove around to find out that it just had water in it. They moved on to Scoobie and Boogie’s packs and unwrapped a few snacks and ran off to the woods with them. They tried to drag Boogie’s entire pack down the Trail but she was able to scare them off in time. No real damage was done and we had some good laughs to start our day.
We hit the Priest Mountain climb right at 6 AM and were treated to a spectacular sunrise as we hiked up and around the switchbacks. It is a shame that New Hampshire hasn’t been introduced to those yet. It makes the climb so pleasant. I popped in my earphones and cranked up my favorite Death Cab for Cutie mix and had a blast hiking fast up to the top. I stopped at a nice viewpoint and finished my coffee and watched the sunrise come up over the valley.
We took a nice long break at the Priest shelter and read through the confessions. Since this is a family friendly blog, I can’t share most of these with you. Let’s just say that thru hikers are and amorous bunch and there isn’t a lot of resting going on in the shelters. I think my favorite confession was from a thru hiker confesses that he yelled “Shut the F Up!” at a group of young Boy Scouts that were talking outside of the shelter at 7 AM.
This section of the Trail is really amazing in the summer. It is so green and covered in beautiful white, purple, orange and yellow wildflowers. The butterflies and bumble bees are busy pollinating and I got some great video of them that I can share with you when I get into town tomorrow. I’m so glad that I got to see this section in the summer. I don’t recognize it all from the relatively barren landscape that we hiked through in April.
We had hoped to camp on Cole Mountain for the sunset but there were signs letting us know that camping in the balds was prohibited so we pressed on to the next shelter. I had John Lewis on my mind today as he was remembered and honored at his funeral in Atlanta. I treated myself to a great On Being episode from 2013 where Krista spent an hour with him. It was so soothing to hear his sweet voice and soak in his message of love and hopefulness. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/on-being-with-krista-tippett/id150892556?i=1000376919740. Give this a listen when you have some time.
We got into the shelter just in time for a strong thunderstorm to roll through. The rain is pounding on the tin roof and the thunder is coming in strong. I’m so glad we are not on top of Cole Mountain in this! The rain will be great for all of the wildflowers and the James River should be running strong when we get to it tomorrow afternoon. Sadly, tomorrow will be my last day but it was wonderful to spend more time with my sweet friends and see how fantastic this part of the Trail is in Summer.