We were in no hurry to leave the shelter (9:15 AM), thinking that we were going only about 8 miles to Rt 73 (Brandon Gap) where the McKains would meet us. We looked forward to seeing them again and to having a warm shower and sharing a pleasant meal.
On top of a mountain, Dennis suggested getting naked or calling mom. Since there was no coverage, we continued on.
Today and yesterday’s trail was single-path on the side of a hill. Yesterday the hill was to my right; today it is to my left. I preferred yesterday. Having the hill on my right felt safer.
Dennis filtered water from a brook for lunch. I had a peanut butter sandwich and he had sausage. I love the flavor of the chilled mountain water.
The profile map looked like a big hump. In reality, it was a lot of ups and downs. I’ve come to equate the word “gap” with work. At one point we could see across the gap to the Great Cliffs on Mount Horrid. We will have to face those cliffs in a few days.
We stopped at the Sunrise Shelter to use the privy (sometimes referred to as the outhouse, the toilet, but never the latrine) and to call Doug to tell him we would soon be at the crossing. No phone coverage.
When we got to the trailhead there was still no phone service. We asked other hikers but like us, their phones did not work. One woman took down the phone number and said she would call the McKains and tell them we were at Brandon Gap.
We waited two hours. I manicured my nails using my Swiss Army knife, and then read. Finally, Dennis decided to climb up the “‘Great Cliffs” to try to call our hosts. That was when he discovered that we were in the wrong gap and still had nine miles to go.
We decided to go back into the woods, find a water source, and stealth camp. It was almost a straight up climb up the great cliffs. We took off our packs to climb the last 0.1 miles to the lookout. (How much easier that was without our packs!) Dennis went to the edge to take photos while I stayed back 30 feet or so…I don’t like heights with open spaces.
We continued up Mount Horrid. I can understand how it got its name—it is a ghastly climb. The sun was setting and we had not found a water source. At this time, the mosquitoes and noseeums came out in force. At times, I could hardly see, there were so many bugs in my eyes. I kept applying repellent, which does not keep the tear-suckers away. For some reason, Dennis does not attract the insects. Lucky him. Perhaps the commingling of my sweat and fear is an insect attraction. Whatever the reason, they drove me crazy.
We continued to hike in the dark for about two hours, my first lengthy night hike. Multiply my fear of going downhill by ten. My fear had us going about 1/4 mile/hr. We arrived at the Sucker Brook Shelter at 10:30. Except for the two hour rest at the trailhead parking lot, we had been traveling all day to complete about 14 miles.
The shelter was full and the best tents sites were taken. We erected ours on a slope near the brook. Dennis filtered water for a cold drink and went to sleep, too exhausted to cook. I was too achy to fall asleep. The pinkie and fourth left foot toenails are black, which mean I may lose the nails. Finally, exhaustion took over and I slept fitfully.