From Sheep Lake at mile 2334 to Urich Cabin at mile 2355
The lightning last night was so bright it hurt my eyes and the thunder was so loud it made me cringe in my sleeping bag. The little trap tent did its job well. My bag was dry in the morning. Even still it wasn't a night for sleeping. Between the storm and our chatty weekend camping trip neighbors I did not get much sleeping done.
Portrait and I left camp late after trying to dry out the tent in the weak morning light (and I also didn't get up until after 8). Clouds hung thick over Sheep Lake so drying out didn't work well. The back side of my pack was soaked after being on the wet ground all night. I didn't realize how wet it was until I put it on and water started dripping down my back and but. I also realized that I had probably soaked my practically dry sleeping bag by putting it unprotected into my wet pack.
We climbed up the ridge overlooking the lake. I was on full bear look-out--it seemed like the perfect bear hill. Sadly I only saw a lot of fake bears: rocks or stumps that look like bears from a distance, but one closer it becomes a stump again.
On the way down the other side of the ridge Bone Lady caught up to us. We hiked with her for about an hour talking about the AT, hikes she'd done in Utah, finding winter jobs, Canada, and what hikers we'd seen lately. All very hiker topics. She hiked on when we took a snack break.
We had our hopes set on making it 21 miles to a cabin for the night. The guide book promised us a cabin with woodstove, plenty of hooks for drying things out, and protection from weather. At our snack break it didn't seem likely that we would make it-and my hurt tendon was taking all the blame. I took a couple of Advil and rubbed muscle rub into the area and hoped for a little bit of pain relief (and relief from uphill climbing).
At lunch time we had 14 miles left to get to the cabin. We had made up a lot of time since our snack break. The day was still thick with mist-it clung to my hair and tiny dropplets glistened in Portrait's beard. It was also cold. We planned on a half hour lunch break but it was damp, windy, and cold. We left about ten minutes early.
During lunch we were passed by Cheese, but we caught him at a nice little spring, but then he left before us. Portrait and I didn't take any water. Neither of us had been drinking much. I find it hard to drink when it is cold and humid. I promised mself a big pot of hot chocolate at the cabin to make up for it.
At the spring it became pretty clear that we would make it to the cabin. The only questions remaining was would the cabin be big enough for everybody? Could it possibly live up to our expectations? And would we get there before it started to rain?
At the next water source I was pleased to see that I had drank over a liter-more than I had thought. I took another liter and had a small snack. Bone Lady, Cheese, and Bucket were there also having snack. Bone Lady left first, nearly shivering. Portrait and I left not too far behind her. Everyone was in a rush to make the last five miles to the cabin.
The trail reminded me a lot of the AT on a mist afternoon. Puddles dotted the tread and it became a game of keeping socks dry. Mist that had built up on the trees fell in fat drops when the wind blew. It was almost worst than a light rain. Thankfully the trail was mostly flat with one half mile climb. Our estimated time of arrival went from 9 p.m. (or the next morning) to 8, than before 8, to before 7 p.m.
We came to a bridge over a stream and Jack (we met him in Packwood), who was getting water, welcomed us to the cabin. Looking at the outside of the unweathered log cabin it was clear it would meet all our high expectations (except one: I had wanted a picnic table). Smoke rose from the chimney. Hooks were every where and I put my damp sleeping bag by the fire. After getting water I took my shoes off and plopped down on a bench in the dark warm (and somewhat smokey) cabin. Everybody sat about making dinner and talking. It felt like hours of eating and hanging out, but all was quiet in the cabin at 8:30.