Carlie joined Beth on Thursday, while Dietrich, Ken, and I drove down after work on Friday. Once we had dropped vehicles in the appropriate lots (and made a pitstop at McDonalds for Dietrich), we three guys started out in the dark to find Beth and Carlie at our first campsite. When we arrived at the campsite and heard Carlie and Beth, Dietrich and Ken greeted them in friendly voices (*read* loud caveman noises).
Before we went to bed, Beth and Carlie taught us their favorite game from the previous day called "It's Not a Bear." Gameplay proceeds as follows. When one hears an unknown noise in the forest, one turns to their friend and says, "That was not a bear." It seemed to work pretty well for us, seeing as how we didn't see a single bear the entire weekend.
|A fork in the trail|
Ken: "So, we have three options."
Dietrich: "How many options do we have?"
Dietrich: "Are you sure?"
Carlie: "OK, what are our options?"
Ken: "Well, we could go straight up this hill, or go around it."
Dietrich: "Uh-huh. So what's the second option?"
Ken: "There are three options."
Dietrich: "Right, so what was the first one again?"
|Approaching Big Bald|
On top of the bald, we met a group of muggles that had walked up the road from the ski resort below. One older guy in particular was extremely intrigued by the idea of thru-hiking (even over our short distance) and had lots of questions. "Generally, what do you eat? "Generally, do you get lost?" "Generally, do you sleep in tents?" (He really liked the word "generally.") We answered his questions as best we could, and, before we left, he asked to take a picture with us. As we were leaving, he told us, "You guys are heroes!"
|Looking back at the meadow|
|A storm is brewing...|
It's hard to carry on a conversation in the rain, so we walked in silence for a good while... even after it had stopped raining. At this point, Carlie realized, to her horror, that she was the only (strong) extrovert in our group. She kept trying to start a conversation, but the rest of us weren't buying it. Eventually, she said, "Uggh. Why are all of my friends introverts?!"
The rain had mostly stopped by the time we made it to our campsite, which was good. We cooked our dinner (including a couple of the large cans of food Ken had brought along) and then hung the rest of the food in the bear bag. It started to rain soon after dinner, so we all huddled together under my rain fly to stay dry. We sat and talked for a while, and Beth told us a couple of stories from her time on the trail thus far.
The next morning, we set out early to complete the last few miles to the parking lot. We climbed out of the valley and walked along the ridgeline with North Carolina on our left and Tennessee on our right. The clouds were rolling over the mountains, which made the forest look very "Lord of the Rings" like.
At some point, Dietrich ran off by himself down the trail and I mentioned that he looked like Samwise Gamgee, with the pots from dinner the night before hanging off of his pack. From there we decided Beth and Carlie could be Merry and Pippin (because Merry takes care of Pippin when he gets in trouble), I would be Frodo, and Ken could be Gandalf (because he was always in front, obviously).
|Gandalf and the Hobbits|
|We made it!|
|Tallest to greatest!|