The cafe in town is so sweet! Good coffee, nice little sandwiches. We all get seconds of everything. This one dude heading SOBO that seems to have hit it off really well with Chipmunk is heading out, everyone is bummed since they have a really good connection. Sorry I forgot your name, you were cool! I think Chipmunk and I managed to break the vortex a little earlier than some others and decide to try to hike together. He is a cool dude who is one of the only other people out here in mid 30s land (he was also 35 I think). Kinda f’ed up since he came out here ready to mash miles from Sierra City to Canada (even tho his true love was biking)- his GF of 9 years was doing a thru and already did the Sierras- but when he got here she basically broke up with him immediately and was acting super irrationally. They hiked for a couple days together then split up coz I guess she “needed” to do like 35s and 40s or whatever. Hence, why when I first met Chipmunk he was drinking some beers at Drakesbad (she left him the day before). Anyway with all this junk that just happened to him he was really a positive guy. Really an inspiration. I get too moody and complainy, I know. Well, they say write what you know. It’s what I know best, you know? Whine and roses.
The trail is just soooooo awesome, each day better and better. The wildflowers are on point, we are on this awesome ridge, views and flowers and granite everywhere. At some point we sorta notice these clouds in the distance. Then the sky gets darker. And clouds are closer. Then it starts to thunder and rain. We are going up in elevation towards some sort of ridge, and I am starting to get really nervous. He is cautious but not as nervous as me.
This is why.
Once upon a time, which was an actual time that once was upon, I was hiking the AT, in the Whites, coming up to Franconia Ridge, which as usual I didn’t know exactly what that was other than some sorta mountainy thing that was a bit exposed. Storms in the Whites tend to come in the late afternoon. I see my friends Badger, Grouse/Quickstart, and Round 2. We discuss the day’s weather prediction- the storm is supposed to be around 3-4. It’s like 12:30. It’s bright and sunny. There are 4 relatively easy miles to cover, maybe. No problem. Actually, I see now on the picture that cloud was kinda gnarly looking. Whoops.
They get ahead of me and then I come out into the open, out from the forest, and start heading up the trail filled with dayhikers up towards Lafayette. Within 15 minutes an electrical storm has blown in. Thunder and rain on me, lightning on nearby ridges. There is nowhere to hide and the slickrock is slick. I know there is a side trail somewhere to a hut a mile off trail but I miss the turn anyway. Finally I get into a forested area just as it lets up for a bit. Get another mile or so out of the way before the downpour really starts in earnest. I know we are not supposed to stop and “stealth camp” that early but fuck it, this weather sucks. I set up at like 3:30 for the night and do the super steep Mt Garfield in the morning. I later find out Round 2 also missed the turn, and that Badger and Grouse/Quickstart DID take the side trail, which was crazy steep and bouldery, and were in really bad moods since both didn’t agree upon it.
Anyway I swore I wouldn’t let that happen to me again if I could help it, so all this was going through my head as we headed up into a forest of dead trees. Eventually we came out on a ridge again and there were at least patches of trail with tree cover. The storms were threatening, but confusing. We saw another hiker with his tarp pitched at the last of some trees. We decide to push on to a campsite in our app.
When we get there we’ve done like 20 miles. There was a campsite in 5 more that originally I was more into getting to than Chipmunk, but I don’t have a great feeling about this and want to stop. I say let’s at least eat dinner first and decide. Chipmunk is kinda up for going some more, especially when the other hiker who we saw with the tarp- Triple S (Super Sonic Seahawk) comes up and hangs out for a few. Ugh, I *want* to go, but I also don’t. It ends up starting to rain and mini-hail or freezing rain for a bit later on, though I guess not really that bad? I feel ok with the decision for me but I hate that once again I’ve slowed people down. What can I do.