Hogback Ridge Shelter to Flint Mountain Shelter
During a pre-dawn trip to the privy, I discovered the toilet seat had been chewed in half by a bear. I had heard about a bear doing that at another privy. I crawled back into my sleeping bag and waited for some of the traffic to move on. Randy, Skylar, and I took our sweet time airing out clothing and cooking breakfast. I fixed Green Grits and Ham. Randy said he thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail back in 1999. This time, he was slowing down to enjoy the journey. I could relate.
I left in good spirits. The sun was shining. I had intended to hike fifteen miles to Jerry Cabin Shelter, but a few hikers I talked to said that Flint Mountain Shelter was much nicer. I daydreamed another day away with little recollection of the scenery. The forest is a good place for thinking when you aren’t engaged in conversations with others. I’m plenty good at conversing with myself.
The hiking today was easy to moderate with one short climb followed by a long, level stretch, a long descent, and then one more long, mostly level, stretch to Flint Mountain Shelter where I strolled in by suppertime.
Somebody had left a ginger ale in the stream and an apple in the shelter. It was a nice treat, but leaving food in shelters is a bad idea because sometimes the recipients of the trail magic are bears, which causes them to return to the shelters in search of food. After sweeping out the shelter with a discarded mesh bag, I cooked Spanish Rice with Beef and Tomatoes, a side of broccoli, and Mud Pie for dessert. I hung my food bag from a high branch after numerous attempts before discovering the bear cables off to the left of the shelter.
Tonight I have a shelter to myself for the first time in two weeks, although I would prefer some company. I enjoy my solitude during the day, but like to socialize at night. I am one of the few people hiking south. Everybody else is northbound, so I usually meet new people every night.