Day 40 – stealth site at 477 to Lost Mountain Shelter

I got pretty good sleep last night – could just faintly hear Laurel creek in the background. We didn’t have a lot of miles today so it was a lazy morning. I got out of my hammock around 7 and retrieved the bear bag (side note: best hang ever last night. 40’ in the air, not close to anything, took two lines to run it and got it in my third throw…I might have to get a bear can now 😝). I cooked and ate from my hammock again. We struck camp and left the site around 9:30.

There were two big climbs today and the first one was a mile or so into today’s hike. Before that we mostly hiked along Laurel creek. After it started it was a series of switchbacks to gain us 1500’ over a couple miles. A little over the crest of the first mountain was Saunders shelter where we stopped for lunch. It was a super nice shelter with lots of camping spots, pretty easy access to water and even a privy (👀 at you Tennessee!). We stayed about an hour, heading it around 1:30.

The next segment of trail was a couple miles of ridge walking followed by a descent back down to another part of Laurel creek. At the bottom of the descent the trail joined up with the Virginia Creeper trail. We walked a bit on the gravel path until we came to a spot where we could soak our feet. I changed into my sandals and walked out to a rock to sit, soak and sip 🥃.

Thus rejuvenated we set out to finish the last 3 miles. We continued up the VC trail, crossing a few old rail road bridges that had been converted to pedestrian bridges, re-entering the woods once we crossed the second one. We walked along a waterfall / creek until we started the final couple mile climb to Lost Mountain Shelter.

We reached the shelter a little after 5 and it was PACKED! This is by far the largest number of folks I’ve camped with the entire trail so far. There are two church groups here, plus a bunch of through hikers that are meeting up after trail days to continue hiking together. I went to get water and make diner and there were a few drops so I quickly strung up my tarp just in time before we got a solid shower.

We finished dinner and threw our bags in the bear box and listened to folks swap stories by the fire.






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