Mountaineer Shelter-Laurel Fork Shelter. 420.3 done/1769.5 to go. April 12, 2017

Today was another great day. It rained lightly overnight. I was nice and dry in the shelter and when I got up at 5:15 it was over. This morning was one of the few days someone was up and on the trail before me. Slow Motion, whose a SOBO( south bounder) is 74 years old and slow. He likes getting up early and wanted to get a head start.  He hiked NOBO(northbound) several years ago. He’s been section hiking south bound over the last 12 years and plans to complete this year. 

For the first 80% of the day there weren’t many scenic views. So I maintained a steady pace. The most I could go today was 17.8 miles. The shelter beyond that is closed for camping because of bear activity. So I wanted to get here early and relax a little longer than usual. I’m feeling hints of shin splints and some ankle pain on my right side. 

I did see another section of forest with fire damage. It doesn’t look like last year though. Maybe two or three years ago. 

The trail went past this old barn. I love looking at old structures like this and imagining how people lived 150 years ago. 

The best part of the day was towards the end. Laurel Falls was amazing. Also some unbelievably hard descending and climbing. Again the pictures won’t do it justice. Right after the falls the trail got tough. Believe it or not this is part of the AT. Now lastly. Like I said a couple of my friends have requested I talk about gear. I’ve been wanting to do this. Actually I wanted to start with the most important and work my way down. Instead since I mentioned bears I’m going to start there. 

When we are camping, whether it is at a shelter or another backwoods camping spot we are supposed to bear proof our food, if you will. Bears have an unbelievable sense of smell. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy recommends bear canisters. They seal out the smell and are impenetrable. That’s what I have. 

The downside is the weight and space in your pack they take. However I like that it also works as a stool. Good for an old guy. Also you don’t have to hang it. 

Most people don’t have a canister. They hang their food bags. They are supposed to be hung at least six feet from the ground and six feet from the trunk of the tree so bears can’t get to them.

Some of the sites have Bear cables to hang your food bag. If not you have to rely on your skill to throw a rope over a tree branch to hang your bag. Easier said done. 

Most hikers adhere to the rules when it comes to bears, but about 10% don’t. Very unfortunate. 

I have yet to see a bear. I saw bear scat three times today. So they are around. 

Love you and miss you. 

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