Zero day at US 19E
Mountain Harbor Bed Camp night #2
AT miles: nothin’
Total miles: still 403.5
Elevation change: nothin’
Well, nothing much happened today, but the weather outside was frightful. The predicted storm rolled in during the night and kept me confined to the hostel barn for all but a few minutes in Roan Mountain to resupply. As the snow fell and the tempest raged, I sat in front of the heater and was grateful to be inside, safe, and almost warm. Zero days are always a strange interlude, where the inactivity is both restful and maddening. However, waiting out this snowstorm felt like the best excuse to relax and not feel guilty about it. And I certainly don’t.
I awoke to a few inches of snow on the porch furniture outside the large glass door, one bunk away. The snow was still coming down in thick sheets, snow globe style. Apparently I had slept through a tremendous deluge of rain in the wee hours of the morning, but the scene was relatively peaceful now. The occasional gust of wind ripped through the small valley, shaking the whole building.
It was cold downstairs when I stepped down to fix breakfast. The lower level space heaters were barely hanging on, fighting a losing battle, giving everything they had. This old barn just wasn’t built to keep the cold out. Frigid drafts wafted through from anywhere and everywhere. For now though, I was plenty warm and just really happy to be inside. I had considered camping a few miles from here last night and hiking in early today to save myself $30, but I now felt validated in my decision to stay two nights. The oatmeal was hot and hit the spot. No rolling up a snowy tent today.
I retreated from an unsatisfying conversation about so many things, back upstairs to sit in front of the heater, look outside, and do phone chores. I noodled away the morning, then received a call from my good friend, Alamo in Germany (of Haute Route fame). It was great to catch up and remember the good ole days.
My hunger drove me back downstairs to find another warm thing to eat. I heated up some Indian lentil mush and scarfed it down with some toast. It was hot and excellent. Piecing together my resupply was next. Trail Mix let me into the general store, and I started to shiver as I browsed the limited selection. As I piled 13 Clif bars and large quantities of other snack-sized foods, I could tell that this was going to be expensive. However, I was blown away when the total topped $100, for just 3 days of food. It was a crappy, uninspired resupply for an exorbitant markup. But what could I do? I was pretty much trapped.
Not exactly sure how it would work out, I returned a large portion of my pile to the shelves. There were a lot of roads to cross between here and Damascus. I’d rather figure it out, out there then throw away my money here. I settled up the bill, then scuttled back to the hiker box to claim that big bag of previously eschewed plain oatmeal. It would have to do.
I soaked my feet and watched the wind. Some snowboarders showed up after getting blown off the mountain, providing some good conversational variety. As evening approached, TicTac, who had already helped me out by provisioning my stay from her stash of plant-based food, offered to take me down the road to finish off my resupply. Still disgruntled by the hostel store prices, I agreed, even though I felt like I was accepting too much.
The sky was clearing up and the air much colder when we ventured out. It was a beautiful scene, but one that I could only visit temporarily, even in all of my layers. The temperature was somewhere south of 10F, and still falling. The Dollar General had closed early for the weather, and the other small grocery had just enough to supplement my other provisions. No bars, so I’ll be eating a ton of Pop Tarts this next stretch.
Back at Mountain Harbor, I cooked up almost more pasta and crescent rolls than I could handle, then moved away from conspiracy theory chatter, back in front of the heater upstairs. I soon scooted to my bed, as it seemed like the warmer option.
Just as I was about to turn in, three more snowboarders showed up. They drank a lot of beer, but I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation. It was worth staying up past my bedtime to hear about lives so different from mine. Good people everywhere. At midnight, well past hiker midnight, I tapped out, rolling over, grateful for my warmth.
Favorite moment of the day? It had to be the ride to the grocery store. Getting outside into the world and seeing it with a fresh coat of snow was just what I needed after a day spent trying to isolate myself from it. It was a needed reminder that when I hike out tomorrow, there will be more to think about than the cold. It would be gorgeous. An Appalachian treat. Actually, I don’t know. Those crescent rolls were pretty good too…