We woke Sunday morning to no sign of hail. Temps hung around 34F – chilly, but not bad. By 11am we climbed around 600′ as the sun burned away the mist and the chill of the night.
The trail delivered amazing views at Rocky Top (elevation 5,440′).
Then the trail peaked at Thunderhead Mountain at an elevation of 5,527′ – our highest yet on this Appalachian Trail adventure. At the top of Thunderhead we found no views, but did have a bit of fun with the two white blazes we found…
That pic goes out to all my hike club buddies: FUGOWIES FAHEVAH! That pic also foreshadows the trail name I would receive later that night.
After nine miles of up and down hiking over Thunderhead and through a couple gaps, the trail rose up and dropped us at Derrick Knob Shelter. When we arrived we found only to hikers sheltering there: Bret, retired Airborne, and his twenty-one-year-old step-son, Skittles. We swapped hiking stories including our post-tinkle rescue before the hailstorm.
You know what her trail name is now, right? She’s Lost and Found. – Bret
As we relaxed and slowly began our supper, more and more hikers showed up until the shelter filled up with about 12 hikers. Derrick Knob–and any AT shelter really–felt a bit like an open-house party with no host and no invite list. You know people will come and bring fun – you don’t know who, what, or when. We reconnected with Mel, the Australian who doesn’t want a trail name, and her hiking buddies, Finn and Happy Feet. Happy Feet looked like she wanted happier feet when she dragged into Derrick Knob, but she perked up as she ate. We also caught up with Twinkle, who we first met at Wiggy and Maggie’s. She had connected with two other hikers – James, an arborist hiking between jobs and Sparkle, who said she was from Jamaica. We also met Dente, a strong hiker in spite of a sore knee. He was motivated to make it to Gatlinburg to get more Advil and bandaids. And Stacker – from the Hike Inn – came in no worse for wear.
I settled in moments after the sun went down. After the adventures of the prior night, sleep came easily. I put my ear plugs in, pulled my neck gaiter over my eyes, and BOOM! Lights out for Lost and Found.