It poured all morning. We figured out how to pack up inside the tent before packing it up, and that was a trip. After an hour walking, we sat on a log sharing a Powerbar in the drizzle. I looked at John and laughed. “Your Dad was right: we aren’t wrapped too tight!” The German girls came along and snapped a photo of us to prove it. As they handed the camera back, the skies opened up and it poured.
Blood Mountain is rocky. Thick slabs of rock form giants steps to lead you north and up. Perhaps hewn by CCC crews, they have that look of being entirely natural yet deliberately placed. Up and up we climbed through the cloud, rhododendron forming tunnels around us. I’m sure there were views but we could not see them.
The stone shelter, CCC style rockwork, rose from the mist among giant boulders, wraith-like and surreal. Inside, hikers had shrugged off packs in the entry room to let them drip on the stone floor. Inside the deeper chamber, where the impression of a hammer made a striking sight in the stone floor, it felt like a medevial dining room. Swaddled in warm clothes, fellow hikers – familiar faces, with names like Dark Age, Ldog, and Bigfoot – huddled over small cooking stoves, tiny fires casting light and cooking warm food.
Mists gathered and flowed outside as others appeared and disappeared past open windowframes held up by heavy hewn timbers. The roof, a work of art, rebuilt recently by volunteers, kept us dry.
Stepping out into the swirls of mist, it was our turn to vanish into the cloud, stepping gingerly across vast fields of rock with unknown chasms beyond. It felt like “Lord of the Rings,” complete with intrigue and unknown and danger beyond the rocks. And yet, no fear. Just the careful clatter of hiking poles, step by tiny step, as we eased our way down the very large mountain.