I love rain! Lots of rain. Downpours and freezing rain. Rain that causes rivers to flow down the trail. That’s the kind of rain I walked in today. Last night I fell asleep, a little after 8pm. Yep, you read that right! I was literally exhausted and with all the laughing and yakking at the shelter, it didn’t keep me from snoozing in my cozy little tent. I was out like a light.
What a day today was. I can say out of my thousands of miles underfoot, I have never ever hiked in such a torrential downpour like today! It didn’t start out that way. Last night around midnight, the light rain turned to heavy rain. Luckily my tent held up without any issues. The rain was off and on and when I woke up at 4:30am, the rain turned to a minimal drizzle. Yeah for me. I packed up, and Blue and I were on the trail by 6am.
We had two Balds to climb, Little Hump and Hump Mountain. Little Hump was fairly easy going, even with the rain. The trail was muddy and slick and I took my first of two falls. The first, no big deal. I slipped on the mucky mud and sat down on nice pillowy ferns. All good. Only Blue saw me and no real damage besides my pride. We headed up Little Hump, stopped for a morning snack under some thorny trees. Then finished up our climb before the crazy rain showed up.
Then as we were walking through the natural covered arbor, the rain really came. We exited the arbor and up, up we went. Hump Mountain is exposed. No trees to protect us, just grassy fields. There were a few other hikers that passed us as they were headed to town, hoping to beat the impending rain system that was coming our way. Unfortunately, Blue and I are not the fastest hikers on the trail and we were caught in the midst of this pounding storm.
As we were climbing Hump Mountain, I saw BLT coming up the trail. I turned and asked him how he was doing? He said, not good. What’s up? And that opened up a long conversation of what he thought the trail was going to provide for him and what it didn’t. We talked for quite awhile, listening to his expectations and unmet desires. Yet, he mentioned what he did gain from the trail and how he felt healed from some past hurts. All this occurred in the midst of a rainy day on a hill that still needed to climb! Before he left to catch his Greyhound Bus back to New York, we hugged and I shared with him Psalm 91 Bookmark. I’m not sure how he received it but he did take it, and continued on his way. It’s always sad to see friends leave the trail but I feel that the Lord led me to witness to him. Even if I planted a seed, I believe someone will water it, and before you know it, BLT will know Jesus Christ.
As we headed up and over Hump Mountain, the skies opened up like never before. The trail was a river and Blue, bless her heart, was trying to keep her shoes dry. I had to laugh because there’s no way she’s gonna keep those pretty blue shoes clean.
We both were hungry but still had a few miles to go. We stopped at the North Carolina-Tennessee border. Goodbye NC! Two states down and 12 to go. Blue found a campsite that she felt would serve perfectly for a picnic in the rain! She cracks me up. There we were, me heating water for tea, and Blue taking shelter under a tree. We ate quickly with umbrellas donned, drinking hot tea. It was like no other picnic I’ve ever had. We picked up our soaking wet packs and continued on the trail.
I think this rain was a tropical hurricane. It wasn’t warm but it wasn’t cold. Well, at least it wasn’t cold to me. Blue wouldn’t agree as she doesn’t have the body insulation that I do! After seven hours of skipping through rain puddles, slipping on slimy rocks and making our way, Roan was a welcome sight. We arrived at Mountain Harbour B&B after a short road walk.
Mountain Harbour has been the talk of the trail for the past week. It has been voted the best breakfast on the Appalachian Trail for 13 years! Breakfast, here we come, tomorrow. Blue and I have a private room that was most likely an attic conversation. We have both bumped our heads on the rafters more times than I can count, but we are warm and dry, and that is all that matters. What a nice reprieve from rain soaked tents and our wet clothes. All is good in our world.
I never know how God is going to dictate my day. Today, I could’ve never dreamed that I would be saying goodbye to a trail friend in the middle of a downpour, on the way up Hump Mountain. But our sweet Lord sure knew. How I love the way Jesus puts someone in our life, even if it’s just for a week or two. All I can do is pray that BLT will remember that he was loved, he was heard and he always has a place to come back to. I will miss you, Brave Little Toaster. May you find your way back to your people in Harlem. Until we meet again, Godspeed.
“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
Colossians 4:6 NIV