Appalachian Trail Journal Day 20

Groundhog Creek Shelter to Standing Bear Hostel

7.2 miles

I had a surplus of dinners building up, so I cooked Turkey with Mashed Potatoes and Mixed Vegetables for breakfast. Don, Rick, and Eric left in light rain, but by the time I was ready to head out it was pouring again. Two fellows who had been tenting overnight near the shelter got caught in the downpour just as they were taking down their tents. They joined me in the shelter and spread their tents out to dry a little. I was impressed with their positive attitude under difficult circumstances.

One of the men called his wife on a cell phone to see if she could give him a weather report. She called back with a forecast that the rain would let up around eleven o’clock followed by partly cloudy skies and rain returning at three o’clock. The sun appeared right on schedule and I hit the trail.

I gained 1200’ elevation over the first two miles and then the last five miles to Standing Bear Hostel were mostly downhill. Unfortunately, the second half of the weather forecast was also accurate, so at three o’clock it started pouring, soaking the insides of my boots once again. On the other side of the gravel road leading up to the hostel, the creek raged so hard that it would have been impassable where the Appalachian Trail usually crossed.

I arrived at Standing Bear Hostel just as a pizza was coming out of the oven in the little hut that houses the camp kitchen. I put my arms out in front of me and walked in like a zombie, saying pizza… pizza… pizza. I got a good laugh, but more importantly, I got two pieces of pizza from Vincent! Vincent, who is the unofficial director of guest relations, gave me a tour of the place and I got settled into the bunkhouse and washed my clothes the old fashioned way in the wash basin.

For a while, the rain and wind blew so intensely that it seemed a tornado might cut through. When the bad weather finally passed, I took a ride with Vincent to a convenience store/restaurant for a BBQ sandwich and chocolate milk. I often crave chocolate milk when I have been working hard outdoors.

Back at the hostel, I sat around the kitchen table with Vincent, Forager, and a couple of other hikers playing the house guitar which only had five strings. I used a pop-top for a pick. Forager was a pretty good picker, too. If you ever want to include snails in your backpacking meals, Forager recommends that you cook them with their shells on. He isn’t called Forager for nothing.

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