Day 29 -April 5 2017-12 miles – Mollie Shelter to Derrick Knob Shelter
The day started off overcast and decided to stay that way all day. The wind kicked up and we could see large curtains of rain off in every direction. We knew it was only a matter of time until we would get wet.
During our ascent up to Rocky Top mountain I heard Stoat shout “Bear!” up ahead of me. Then off to my right I heard a large animal running away at high speed. It was the first bear sighting of the trip and it wanted nothing to do with us.
At the higher elevations the trail began to look different. The thick woods gave way to sparsely wooded fields. The field would either have short brown grass, short rhododendrons, or dense thickets of shrubs. Sometimes all three.
Not long after the bear sighting it began to drizzle. At one point I heard what I thought to be thunder. I mentioned it to Stoat and he dismissed it as an airplane flying off in the distance. I mentioned that the weather report said we should expect storms. I was concerned because we would be going through some exposed areas. So began our first argument. “Thunder”, “Airplane” ,”Thunder”, “Airplane” and so on.
The top of Rocky Top was , big surprise, rocky. The views were obscured somewhat by the cloud cover but it was still an enjoyable view.
The wind had kicked up another notch and the drizzle turned to freezing rain. Again we heard the “thunder” noise. Stoat looked at me and said “OK, That was thunder.” We were at 5400 feet on an exposed summit, not the ideal place to be.
We still had to go over the summit of Thunderhead Mountain before we could get to lower elevations. We made haste.
The view at Thunderhead was clouded in but we did hear thunder. It wasn’t that far off rumble sound either. It was that sharp cracking sound that lets you know its closer to you than you want it to be.
On our descent we met four section hikers going the opposite direction. We said hello and commented about the weather. After they left we realized that they were almost the only hikers we had seen all day. It was a little strange considering how many people were at our campsite in the morning.
By the time we got to Derrick Knob we were wet and tired. Our shoes were completely soaked and our clothes were only doing a little better.
We talked to several other hikers while we were setting up camp and they let us know a snow storm was predicted for tomorrow. It was hard to believe only yesterday we were hiking in 60 degree weather.
We changed into dry clothes and called it a day.