Woke up at Groundhog shelter in my tent, and got moving fast due to dry rain fly and all. Had some breakfast with Catfish, Kitty, Santa, Gnome, Bootstrap, and a father and son, and hit the trail.
Got a few miles into the morning and as I went down into a roadbed area, I came across a canopy with bottles of water and a cooler with ice cold coca cola! Jackpot! 9:30 or so was a little early to drink that so I threw it in my bag and took off after taking a quick break. A big uphill, and when I got to the top (only about 10 min later), I was ready for the refreshing beverage. Chugged it and went on. It was cold, bubbly, and delicious!
I was still out to catch Tarzan, Flosser, and Justin, who based off a sign I saw by where I camped, they were already 11 or so miles ahead of where I was. I busted down the trail and put on some quick miles. Hauled up to what was supposed to be a great spot called Max Patch that animals used to graze on, which means its open and grassy instead of wooded. I got up there but unfortunately was socked in with clouds and a strong wind. I walked along the top and as I was about to the end, the sky opened up a bit to my right and I was able to get some good views. Checked to see if I had cell service and noticed that Flosser (Brian) had said they camped earlier than planned the night before and had been on Max Patch about an hour before me.
Got down lower and hiked through some other cool areas that had a lot of water and bay trees, and a lot of green vegetation. It reminded me of the rainforest a bit. Stopped at Roaring Fork shelter and had lunch with some youngins from Maryland. Banana, Blueberry, Big E, and Bubblefeet. Blueberry was a sassy, snotty little thing, but the others were alright. I read the trail log in the shelter and saw that the boys were there about an hour an 15 before I was reading that. I booked it out of there and went chasing again. About 40 minutes or so passed, and there I saw Flosser taking pictures of flowers. Caught them!
Eventually we caught up to the old farts, Muddy Water and and Steelhead, and had a fun time hiking and chatting with them. Once we found water, we hiked back up the trail a bit and set up camp on a flat area just off the trail. We ate some dinner, then I said we should get a fire going, so we all pitched in to get that started. When that was burning just about perfectly, and we had all finished eating and hung the food bags, I went to my tent and told the guys "I've got something that's been weighing on me for the past few days that I need to get off my back". Just then, Chris caught sight of the Big River Pilsner (Brewed in Chattanooga) six pack that Rachel and Jason brought me, and that I had schlepped in my pack for the past 2 days and probably 20 or so miles. The smiles on the guys' faces were priceless as we enjoyed the cool, refreshing brew after a tough day of uphills and downhills!
Sharing...the best way to lighten your pack weight :). Too bad Muddy Water and Steelhead went ahead of us after we filled up on water! There were 2 for them.