AT Miles = 15.4 / 298.2
Other Miles = 0.3 / 15.2
Total Miles = 15.7 / 313.4
Wow! The wind increased all night and about 5:30 this morning I woke up to the hammock bouncing up and down. It had been dead calm when I set up the hammock in the afternoon, but now I was on top of the ridge with the hammock set up broadside to a gale. The windward side of the tarp was actinbg like a sail and catching lots of wind, deflecting it downward toward the ground. Since the tarp is above the hammock, it was actually pushing the hammock down, and when strong gusts hit I could feel my butt hitting the ground. Meanwhile, the leeward side of the tarp was luffing loudly. I was afraid that either the tarp would fail and tear under the strain, or the peg anchoring the tarp would let go and then the tarp woiulkkd get torn to shreds in the wind. When it was just light enopugh to see about 6:30, I got up and packed up my gear, made breakfast, and was walking by 7:30.
When I got to the road crossinbg of NC 208, in Allen Gap, there was a sign for trail magic at a nearby house. I hesitated for a moment, then decided to go for it. When I got to the house the two couples I have been hiking with were there, and I was invited in by Hercules and Fal, who thru-hiked in '99. They served first a huge breakfast plate of Belgian waffles, bacon and eggs and tea, then immediately followed it with a lunch plate of corn chowder and a burrito. I topped it all off with a dessert of cherry pound cake with ice cream. In between courses I snacked on a half dozen slices of coffee cake and drank two pots of tea.
At the end of the meal their ulterior motive was revealed when they discussed the religious faith and offered a selection of books, b ut they weren't pushy about it and I didn't find it offensive.
After that wonderful meal it was back on the trail and the wind was still picking up! I wish I had a tape recorder so I could have taped the roar of the wind coming up and over the ridge the trail is on. At one point I came to a trail sign labelled "Exposed Ridge Trail", and below it, pointing another way, "Bad Weather Trail." I chose the exposed ridge, and it was quite an experience. Occasionally a bit frightening, but mostly wildly exhiliarating. What a day! So much power loose in the atmosphere here today. Some may need a god to find power, but the wind is enough for me.
The wind is still roaring and the fog has rolled in. I found a spot that is more or less sheltered behind some rhododendron to hang my hammock, and I hope tonight is a bit more restful than last night.