AT Day 038: Monday May 15, 2023

Mile 576 +  20.5 miles /33  km

Total Distance Hiked:  596.5  miles /960  km

VA Route 623 – Jenkins Shelter –  Hunting Camp creek – Suiter Rd/ VA 615/ Laurel Creek – US 52/ Brushy Mt Outpost – Helvey’s Mill Shelter – Camp

A: 3930 ft/ 1199 m  D: 4770 ft/ 1455 m

Despite our preference to never camp near a road,  last night we were camped right by the road. Just the way it worked out. It made me feel a bit uneasy and took a while to fall asleep. It was a quite road, no cars went by until 4.30 am and I was awake already. It had started raining though the night which we were expecting. 

The rain had stopped by the time we broke camp and the birds like us were very happy to see the start of a new day. Despite there being little possibility of seeing the sunrise, the birds were still chirping in a happy chorus,  so how can we complain. 

We had a four mile of mostly downhill trail to reach Hunting Camp Creek. The woods were enveloped in a heavy mist until we started to descended towards the creek.  We came across a large number of the irridescent orange salamader and even a small toad.   It was still too cold for them to move. We passed the turn off for the shelter but could not see if there were any hikers there.  

We stopped to filter water at the creek and to have breakfast, expecting for some hikers from the shelter to pass us. Nobody came by, I wondered where everyone had gone. All morning we saw one other hiker, southbound section hiker with her dog. It was nice to stop for a chat.

Rain is predicted to return around 11am this morning and we figured we’d reach Laurel Creek by then. The decent to Laurel Creek was on a nice soft trail that looked like an abandoned logging road. It was nice to walk side by side and talk about our motivation to do this hike. More on that later in another post. 

Laurel Creek would make a lovely spot for a swim on a better day. Today the rain arrived right on cue as we crossed the bridge over the creek, and has not stopped for the rest of the day. While it’s not cold, hiking in the rain is just not fun. The dull light under the tree canopy and rain just added to the feeling of druggery as the afternoon dragged on. Combined with the constant noise of traffic on Interstate 52 which we were approaching, made for a miserable afternoon.  

The only bright spot this  afternoon was stopping for a burger at the  Brushy Mountain Outpost which the trail passes. There were  five or six hikers there we’d not seen before here, lingering outside under a shelter, smoking dope and looking at their phones.  With full bellies, we got back on trail and into the miserable rain.  

The rain was predicted to ease after 6pm. We hiked for a couple hours after the afternoon burger stop.  We were soaking wet and decided to stop just after 5 when we passed a trailside campsite. 

More rain and thunderstorm are predicted for tomorrow. Although an unpleasant afternoon, we are grateful that it was not cold. Once we got the tent up, and changed out of our soaking clothes and were warm and dry all was good in our world. Big Agnes Hilton continues to be an excellent shelter from the storm.