Day 71 — Sunday, May 25
A new week and Memorial Day weekend! That means many weekend and day hikers to pass.
I woke and packed up around 6:30. Tandem woke and got ready quickly, and we hiked quietly out of the Sulphur Spring campsite. Only a couple of other hikers had left. It was mostly downhill, but after five miles we took a snack break at Matts Creek shelter. We dropped down to the James River and the pedestrian bridge for crossing but didn’t jump in due to the early hour of 9:30.
We hiked a couple more miles and lunched at 11:00 at Johns Hollow shelter. Then we had a hard climb to the top of Big Rocky Row where we were rewarded with good views.
We then cruised along in the afternoon sun to the Punchbowl Shelter for a rest. There is a pond beside the shelter. Free Man was there. Zig and Zag, his dog, showed up as well as a couple of other hikers. Tandem napped after snacking, and I prepped my backpack. After she woke, I left for the downhill run, knowing that she would catch up with me.
I met Ridge Runner Regina along the way, and we talked about how her son had graduated in December from Georgia Tech. She had a lot of patches on! She asked if I was playing my music out loud to fend off bears, and I explained that it was due to the lack of hikers on the trail at that later hour to pester. Tandem came up, introduced herself and talked about UGA and what Regina knew about the campsites ahead. She gave us advice, and we moved on.
We reached the reservoir and passed many families fishing from the narrow bridge. We hiked up and around most of the reservoir without seeing a place to camp. We passed Free Man in a small campsite, but passed on it. We turned up a feeder creek and hiked a couple of miles up toward the Brown Mountain Creek shelter.
It was getting dark at 20:00 when we arrived at a small campsite below the shelter. We set up with about six other hikers and made pasta dinner. We never did get up to the shelter. We talked with a couple of longer section hikers who were raising money for renovating Appalachian homes. They were finishing with the two miles into Buena Vista tomorrow.
I hung our bear bags, got water to make Gatorade, and crashed.