Day 86: Four Pines Hostel to Pickle Branch Shelter

Sep 6, 2013
Apr 14, 2021
3074 ft
2942 ft
6.7 mi

Currently sitting at the picnic table... Last night, my dad made plans with Joe, the owner of the hostel, to get a shuttle back to his truck near Buchanan. With our mileage locked in on a short day today, we didn't have much motivation to get going really early. I was surprised to be the first one awake, so I got up to drink chocolate milk and think about breakfast. Joe wasn't lying when he said there were 15 dozen eggs in the fridge. Apparently the hens outside aren't just for show! I threw a bunch of the eggs in a skillet and made scrambled eggs with jalapenos, which I washed down with Dr. Pepper. Whatever. My dad woke up and announced that he had gotten nine hours of sleep, which is essentially unprecedented for him. It must have been the lack of rest catching up with him. We dinked around for a while longer as I snacked and played on my phone before finally saying goodbye for now to Lost'n'Found and heading back down the road. We re-entered the woods and started our ascent of Cove Mountain. The trail was well-graded for the most part, but it got pretty rocky, requiring Mohican to learn some of the moves I had perfected up north. An otherwise uneventful climb brought us to the top of the mountain, where a side trail led a tenth of a mile to Dragon's Tooth. It's a stone projection sticking up from the top of the mountain. Having seen and heard about it from all the AT media I've consumed, I knew I had to climb on top of it. It was about 30 feet high from the surrounding area, and getting on top meant climbing along a narrow strip of rock. If I had to guess what kind of tooth it was, I would say incisor. The top drew me up, but once I was there I was reminded of my mild fear of heights. I took a few pictures before scooting down on my butt until I was at a spot that I could climb down. We relaxed for a long time on top of that mountain because we didn't have anywhere to be and because it was Mohican's last day of hiking. All we had left to do was descend four miles to the shelter, and that walk only promised us one more view. I passed the time by eating most of my snacks for the day, We followed the ridge most of the way, so we were on the rocks. That makes for slow hiking, but again, what was the rush? We stopped for what would essentially be my dad's last mountain view, snacking some more, then headed down the mountain to the shelter. It was unfortunately 0.3 off-trail, with another 0.2 to the water source. Everything worked out though; the water was a clear, cool, fast-moving stream. The shelter is nice enough, even though we failed to start a fire. The smoke was nice, though. And Brightside just rolled up! I haven't seen him since Connecticut. And he's hiking with Dee, a guy I apparently passed somewhere along the way. I figured this was kind of inevitable...I took 6 days to go 60 miles. I am excited to meet friends again, but the competitive side of me still wants to be "the fastest". I have come to terms with this (sort of), recalling the old mantra: "HYOH". That means Hike Your Own Hike. It covers a broad range of issues, but one of them is worrying about where other people are relative to you. Just do what you feel!