8/9, Day 102, Big Branch Shelter to Clarendon Shelter, 16.9 miles
We hiked in a pine forest on a pine needle trail that contoured a mtn. This is the kind of trail found in the Sierra and it was fast and easy and smelled wonderful.
At a trail junction in the White Rock area were small fist-to-football sized granite rocks. Hikers have piled all the rocks into dozens of creative sculpture cairns. Cairns on the AT always make me laugh with delight. The trail is so well marked that cairns are superfluous.
We crossed the river on a high suspension bridge that had both a sway and a ripple. The water had carved the rocks into beautiful flowing shapes. The AT has been relocated when climbing out of the gorge from a gentle ascent jeep road to a Class II boulder climb right up the end of the gorge. Woo-hoo, exciting!
Rain kept us from getting our guide out as we crossed the highway and we missed the Whistle Stop Restaurant a short distance up the road. We heard all about the food at the shelter as hikers recounted what they had eaten.
We are sleeping in the shelter because of rain, mud and lack of adequate camp sites. We were the only AT thru hikers. There were 5 Long Trail hikers and 2 AT section hikers. It seems like we are still in a vacuum of AT hikers.