4/19/15 – Vandeventer Shelter – 15miles
After dinner we all snuggled in the shelter and discussed trail life while watching the fog and rain drift in and out. After darkness fell, one by one we started to drift off to sleep to the sound of the rain.
At eleven o’clock (yes, I wear a watch when on the trail) I was woken up by the flash of headlamps and mumbling. A group of hikers came right up to the shelter with their stupid headlamps shining in on us. From what I could understand being half asleep, they were expecting a spot in the shelter. Disappointed, they groaned and cussed before moving on. I tossed and turned for the next thirty or so minutes after their departure. I kind of had to pee and as I began to wake more, my brain registered the eerie silence that had come over the shelter. The rain and wind had stopped and it was quiet, too quiet.
I then began to hear a slight whooshing sound. The whooshing grew louder and louder sounding more like a train heading up the mountain. By the time I was fully awake to remember I was no where near train tracks, I simultaneously flashed back to my childhood days in school when I was told what a tornado sounds like before it hits. I was terrified.
These thoughts breezed thru my brain when it, the train, stuck. A wall of wind and rain slammed into the shelter with such force I thought we were all goners. Almost everyone in the shelter woke up and curled up closer to the back wall of the shelter for protection. As I did the same, I peeked out of my bag to see the rain swirling and our packs and jackets going horizontal in the wind. I rolled over to Darwin’s bag for security feeling safe with him close to me. Now fully awake, I remembered my pack cover daintily hanging from the bricks of side shelter wall. I peeked from my bag again and looked to the spot where it hung no longer. Darwin had told me after dinner to secure it more but I was more concerned with food and sleep to care.
As I laid in the fetal position I listened to the storm send wave after of wave of hard rain and wind into the shelter. I felt fully exposed to the elements and very much at the mercy of the storm. Eventually falling in and out of sleep, I dreamt of my pack cover riding the winds to the city below us like a sad deflated balloon. I dreamt of Cider and Supermoon my sisters of the trail, being washed away in their tents down the mountain. My dreams were scarred by worries of Optimist and Lil Biscuit in the hole at the side of the shelter. I felt confident they would squish in the shelter if needed but I was too scared to check on them with the storm raging on.
After what seemed like hours, the rain died down to a sprinkle and the wind dulled to a slight breeze. I took this chance to emerge from my wet bag to check on our current situation. Cider and Supermoon’s tents were still standing; they had not been swept away. I glanced over to see a sagging but still intact tarp coming from one side of the shelter. With some relief I registered the fact my friends were more than likely still alive in their shelters. I headed to the other side to pee.
While squatting in the mud and drizzly rain, I thought about how miserable it would be to hike to Damascus without a pack cover if bad weather continued. I thought about how pissed Darwin was going to be when I revealed to him the mishap. While still in squatting position, I ran my light over a neighboring Rhododendron in hopes my pack cover was snagged in the branches. Alas, only leaves to be found and the ground was barren of rain covers too. As I turned to leave my pee spot my light caught a glimmer of unnatural material. I then took in the full view of my little pack cover splattered up against a few boulders at the back of the shelter! Eureka! I shook off the mud and leaves it had collected and fought back the urge to yelp in excitement. I trotted back to the front of the shelter and carefully secured my muddy rain cover with all the trekking poles I could grab. I snuggled into my bag at ease knowing both my traimly and pack covers were all safe and sound.
I awoke to the sound of Roub and Darwin making coffee in the early morning. I peered over to my trekking poles and there in the early morning light was my pack cover and the tents of my trail sisters. We had survived!