Nina Baxley: Appalachian Trail Thru-Hiker

Chestnut Knob Shelter, Virginia

Date: November 9, 2000
Location: Chestnut Knob Shelter, in the mountains of southwest Virginia
Miles Hiked: 1,613.9
Miles Remaining: 553.2

The rain is back. And it's cold. Brrrr.

I walked in rain for the third day in a row today. I woke up at Laurel Creek this morning, rain pitter-pattering on my tent fly. I waited patiently for it to stop. It didn't. Finally, I ate breakfast, then packed up everything I could from inside the tent. By 7:00, I was on the trail, and the rain fell steadily down.

Five miles and a few hours later, I took a break at Jenkins Shelter. The day was so drizzly and cold that I considered stopping there for the day. I checked my AT Data Book, a publication of the AT Conference that thru-hikers (including me) find indispensable on the trail. I learned that if I hiked ten more miles to Chestnut Knob Shelter (as originally planned), I could take a short day (9 miles) to Knot Maul Branch Shelter the next day.

I decided hike to Chestnut Knob Shelter. First, however, I had to air out my wet, stinky feet, eat a Snickers bar, read the shelter register, and get water. Reading the registers is always a pleasure for me. Now that I'm ahead of Tenbrooks, Blue Skies, Matt, Blade, and Friendly Bear, I can't follow their progress. Even so, I still anticipate reading about my other trail friends—particularly Apollo, Man in the Moon, 5th Wheel, Looking Glass, Hypothetical, and Cool Hand Luke—the group that started on June 20th with me. We're all still on the trail, and I feel a special kinship with this group, even though I haven't seen most of them since my early days in Maine.

Finally, I was ready to start hiking again. I pulled on my stinky, wet socks (the same ones that had to remain outside the tent last night because their smell was so nauseating. And yes, I'll probably wear the same socks tomorrow!), hoisted my pack, and started walking, stopping for water once I got to the AT.

The rain kept on. As I climbed uphill, the wind began to kick in, and it got cold. I wore shorts, a Coolmax t-shirt, my boonie hat, and my rain jacket, but the wind seemed to cut right through everything. I had ten miles to hike, most of it uphill. For one of the first times in nearly five months, I didn't feel like hiking. This Louisiana girl was cold, and I just wanted to be in a shelter, insulated in my down sleeping bag, sipping hot chocolate. It was going to be a long day.


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