Spence Field Shelter

Second Night Out.

After an unexpected power outage at Fontana Lodge, I managed to get on the trail by 1pm, amidst a flurry of picture-taking.

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The climb up and in was pretty easy, but I quickly discovered I wouldn’t be able to wear my right ankle brace. It made my tendonitis in that right foot flare up within the first mile. The problem went away as soon as I removed it. Halfway up the mountain, I was tightening my hip belt when the buckle blew out. If anyone out there knows how to buy a 2-inch-wide buckle-type thing, please do it and send it to me in Hot Springs. I tied the belt in a knot and kept climbing.
I was almost to the top of shuckstack when it started raining, and the rain kept up all evening long. The trail turned into a slip-and-slide around mile 7, and I still had 3 to go. When it stopped I was working my way up Mollie’s Ridge, where the trail was iced over and the weather turned into a moving cloud. I could see the water vapor moving sideways across my headlamp (for it got dark before I reached the shelter). I stepped in and everyone was already asleep, so I quickly changed into dry clothes and hung up the wets, and set out a bottle to catch the second rainstorm’s water.

I had a hard time getting to sleep, and I think I was the only one awake past real midnight. I woke up when everyone else in the shelter did (Count, Eli, Sunflower), but stayed in my bag and out of their way, planning on leaving well after them, just in case it rained again. I left about an hour later. I was about a mile into my hike when I realized I had left my rain coat back in the shelter. So, two extra miles were added to my hike. I lost enough time that I was unable to complete my plan of making it to Derrick’s Knob Shelter, so today was only a 6 mile day. Of course, it was a very interesting six miles. The hoarfrost on the trees started melting around 2pm, creating a rain of ice shards.

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I made it to Spence Field Shelter around 4:30, and Dovetail and Caribou already had a fire going. Some old-timers section hiking the Smokies pointed out there was a privy here and the next section of the AT was the hardest bit in the Smokies, so I was convinced to stay here rather than push for Derrick’s Knob. Dovetail had an interesting message on his camp shoes.

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This shelter is full up with spring breakers, so I’d best go roll out the sleeping bag. Next post from Clingman’s Dome in two days (hopefully)!

13 thoughts on “Spence Field Shelter

  1. Karen Rutter

    I should be able to find a buckle for you and Copper can bring it to you at Hot Springs. Also, be thinking about what kind of meat you want for dinner that night. Renea rented a little cabin in Hot Springs so look forward to a good night’s sleep! Glad you were dry today.

    Reply
  2. Karen Rutter

    I should be able to find a buckle and Copper can bring it when he comes. Also, Renea rented a cabin in Hot Springs so be thinking about a dinner meal you want that night. Glad you were dry today!

    Reply
  3. Sushi

    I like Dovetail’s shoe.

    You have not answered the most important question yet: How will this hike impact the stylishness of your mustache?

    Reply
  4. Jacob

    I spent a week living in the clearing at Derrick’s Knob when I worked with the SWEAT Crew doing trail maintenance on the AT. If you walk the path behind the shelter, you’ll find a locked box where we stored our tools (and bags during the day). There was a blind rattlesnake in the clearing in front of the shelter for the entire week (he was preparing to shed). Most of my work is gone by now. I’m sure the weeds and tree limbs have grown back and been retrimmed by the 11 and 12 trail crews and I’m sure the drainages we dug (or redug) have been refilled and redug by now, but that’s how it goes.

    Reply
  5. Karen Rutter

    Renea is working on a buckle for you. If you can take a good picture of what is broken and the other piece too, it would help. Also, Renea got a cabin in Hot Springs for you—–a bed, a toilet, ahhhhh—-the little luxuries of life!

    Reply
  6. Mikella

    Jimmy can order your buckle through his work and mail it ASAP. He really needs a picture to know what’s best or either you can choose from options on the website:

    http://www.mcmaster.com/#tie-down-buckles/=lveav2

    Make sure you pick an option that comes in 2″. We thought you’d want the 2″ plastic squeeze release, but didn’t know if you’d want sew or no sew, so you should choose then he can get it for you.

    Reply
  7. mickey

    Rock on, man.

    Jacob shared your blog with me, and I’ll be following right along. It’s always nice to have someone to live vicariously through. Stay warm!

    Reply
  8. mickey

    Rock on, man.

    Jacob shared your blog with me, so I’ll be following right along. It’s always nice to have someone to live vicariously through. Stay warm, and keep a look-out for the small pieces of airplane wreckage after Mt. Guyot on the right side of the trail (I want to say it was an F-4 that crashed there in the ’60s.) I seem to recall it was only one or two pieces of sheet metal, but the paint and rivet holes gave it away as aircraft material.

    Reply
  9. Kristyn

    Hey David! I just wanted to wish you a happy birthday. Hope all is well in the mountains. We miss you down here.

    Reply
  10. DMT (Solo)

    There’s a little outfitter right on the main drag in Hot Springs (hard to miss, there are only maybe three other stores in that town) where you should be able to get a new buckle.

    Glad you see the weather isn’t too bad out there in the Smokies.

    Happy trails.
    -DMT (Solo)

    Reply

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