I awoke this morning around 4:30am to the sound of rain. Shoot. My hopes of our tent drying out seem to have just faded away. Oh well. I’m not going to dwell on it. And I’m not really acknowledging that, in addition to this wet tent, we’ll pick up about 5lbs of food today for days 4-7. It’ll be fine. I’ll be fine. I’m strong and will push on. No factor.
The rain subsides around 6:30am, so I emerge quietly from my tent. The girls are working hard, so I want them to sleep in just a bit more. It’s still pretty dark and a bit foggy again. The sound of the birds chirping and the stream at our campsite makes for such a pleasant and gentle morning. I sit on the log around the unused fire ring (oh how nice it would be to have a proper seat with a back rest!) and write a bit to reflect on our journey thus far. Yesterday was hard, but I’m really excited for today! Looking at FarOut at what’s ahead, it looks like a lot of fun!
8am comes and I wake the girls. Baby Bear is wide awake quickly while Moon Pie takes a few minutes to become coherent. The sky seems to be clearing up and I’m excited at the possibility of shaking off some of this rainwater/added weight off the tent! As all of my camp chores are complete, I anxiously, but patiently, wait for the girls to exit the tent. They get ready and we are indeed able to dry the tent out some! I’m so stoked! I’d estimate that we get about 70% of the water off! Yes!!! Let’s gooo!
We get on trail about 9:30. As we meander through the forest, we experience some of the most beautiful sites today! Waterfall after waterfall! Steam after stream! Mountains through the trees! The bridge crossings are so much fun, too! Although the forecast says we should have pretty significant weather from 4-8pm, we don’t let it negatively affect us one bit. We stop at all the places we want to explore, fully acknowledging that we’re not trying to beat the rain supposedly coming. We even cross into North Carolina for the first time!
We get to our food cache and thankfully we had no issues. I’ve heard of some people’s food being stolen (not from this particular site and not from Taz’s ammo cans…mostly straight from bear bags being hung at camp), but ours was all there! Since we still have some food leftover from the first 3 days, we decide to reverse trail magic Taz and leave a bit of food behind in the ammo cans.
Off we go towards camp. We venture on as the sky becomes much darker all around us. The temperature has dropped significantly, usually indicative of an impending thunderstorm….at least that’s how it is in Florida. It looks a little ominous, if I’m being perfectly honest. For the third or fourth time this trip, it dawns on me again that the FHT offers no real form of protection from the elements.
There aren’t any shelters to dip into in case of high winds, lightning, hail, etc. Before we left, I researched what to do in the event of severe weather. And the best I got was to remove any metal objects (like trekking poles), backpack and crouch into a tight ball, making yourself as small as possible….and of course, being mindful of potential deadfalls in high winds. Also, don’t crouch near tall trees, and quickly get off an exposed ridge line. Oh, and do not take cover in caves or rock overhangs. Hmmm, that last bit of advice was something I learned.
The rest seemed like common sense. Anyway, the thoughts and visions of my girls having to experience that start to leave me a bit unsettled. I pray, and peace washes over me. God reminds me of His protection.
We break for a quicker than usual lunch not too far from where we picked up our food. This is where we experience our very first real trail magic. This magic comes in the form of the Bear Whisperer, aka Pastor John. He is a 2x AT thru hiker and has more miles under his feet than I’ll ever have. We all visit and talk for 15-20 minutes, eventually meeting his friends that he’s hiking with. When he hears we were going to hike up about .5 miles to throw our trash away in the trash cans at Whitewater access, he insists that he take it for us. Now, some of you reading this won’t fully understand the significance of this kind gesture, but trust me, backpack long enough and you will. He lightened our load instantly. He knew how helpful this was and did so with a smile. Thank you, Bear Whisperer. You blessed us abundantly and we will never forget you!
We all take pics together, and bid farewell to our new friends and head back down the trail towards camp. The next 3-4 miles were some of the very best I’ve ever hiked. The trail becomes quite a bit more technical with steep stairs (some wooden, some rocks, most without handles to hold on to). The views were beyond incredible! This area will forever be etched into my heart and mind! Between the girls and I constantly remarking, “oh wow!!” and “be careful. This is pretty slippy!” it became a proper adventure! This is what I crave!
We make it to camp and set up rather quickly. As it hasn’t rained yet, it does sprinkle for about 5 minutes as we begin putting up the tent. No big deal. Ayva and I tackle that chore, whilst Jael filters water for dinner. We are a great team. These girls rock! No complaints whatsoever comes from them. Even though I know they are ready to rest, too, they just do what they know needs to be done.
Not too long after we get set up, we get neighbors! 2 very nice ladies that started the same day that we did, also dropped off by Taz. The only difference is, they started from TRSP and were heading in the opposite direction. We have great conversation, make dinner, and all head off to bed. It’s getting cold! The lows are forecasted to be in the 30’s tonight. The girls and I reminisce about our incredible day, say our prayers, and easily fall asleep.
No more rain comes, so our tent is allowed to dry out even more overnight. Thank you, God!
Story by Karen Delos Santos.
Read more :
- 7 days 6 nights camping trip at Table Rock State Park part 1 – From Florida to Table Rock State Park
- 7 days 6 nights camping trip at Table Rock State Park Day 1 – Oconee State Park to Crack in the Rock Campsite
- 7 days 6 nights camping trip at Table Rock State Park Day 2 – A Crack in the Rock campsite to an unnamed campsite