Day 3, august 28th
Start: Pico shelter, mile 492
End: cowboy camp at mile 520
Miles hiked: 28

It rained pretty steadily all night. I know this because I was consistently woken up by a little critter running around on my tyvek. A tiny, tiny, price to pay for a cabin in the woods all to yourself in a storm. I mean, are kidding me? My stuff is completely dry. I’m completely dry. I hike out of Pico camp, and I have no concern about getting my gear dry. It feels too good to be true after all of the exposure on the pct. There’s no ‘hiding’ from any storm. And there sure as he’ll aren’t any primo cabins there waiting for you when it begins to downpour.

Due to the above, I’m happy as a clam hiking out of Pico camp. The sun begins to rise as Scuttle and I hike through the dark forest. Light clouds still hang on to the top of Killington, leaving the forest misty. As the sun rises, the rays of light shoot through the forest, illuminating the mist and making the most vibrant sun rays I’ve ever seen through the dark forest. I’m in awe. Dumbstruck as the beauty of the light shooting between the branches of the trees. ‘Is this real life?’ I think to myself. I remember wondering if I would ever be in awe at the beauty of the Appalachians, much like I was at times on the pct. I’m all about big mountains and grand views, and the at is more about the subtle things. But this light, this forest, it’s breathtaking to see in this moment, and I can’t help but feel so thankful that I’m here, now, seeing this blast of light. I might be the luckiest person ever. How fortunate I am to be out here, enjoying nature and doing what I love, seeing things I could never imagine.

This phenomenon only lasts a minute or two, as the sun was at the perfect angle. Thankfully I snapped a quick picture with my phone. I try to get out my nice camera from my fanny pack, but the light show is already over.

I catch up to Andrea a few minutes later. “Did you see that!?” I ask.

“I’ve never seen anything like it!”

It was truly amazing. We walk on discussing how it happened, and how rare it is to see anything like that. This sets the tone for the rest of the day, as we both feel as if we’ve seen something extremely beautiful and rare.

We pass several hikers headed northbound today, most AT hikers. One tells us of an apple tree on the trail. The tree is beautiful, and full of tiny green apples. I pluck one. Tastes like a Granny Smith, delicious! A bit sour and tart, my favorite kind of apples. Scuttle and I take several apples; there are literally hundred on the tree. And the day just keeps getting better.

We continue on in the green forest, up and over small summits with the occasional views from Rocky perches. We get to a road crossing and I vaguely remember there being a restaurant a half mile to the west on the road, the whistle stop cafe. I stopped here in 2010 and still remember the milk shake I got. Scuttle and I go check it out. It’s still open, and still has milk shakes. Boom! The owner is extremely friendly to us.

You can set your backpacks under the roof here, in case it rains. We have a charging unit for you inside, and we have granola bars for hikers to take to go!” She tells us with a smile.

Burgers, shakes, sodas, and fries are consumed in high volume. She even let’s us fill our water bottles with sprite before we leave. Another sign that this is the best restaurant, and the best day ever.

Full bellies, we hike up and over steep ridges, slowly, eventually finding our way to a beautiful little flat spot to cowboy camp. Today was the best day in a long time. Literally a perfect hiking day. Hopefully there’s many more like this in store for scuttle and I as we make our way to Springer mountain!

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Morning light – the only picture I got of it.

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Scuttle picking some good apples.

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Some more pictures.

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Scrambling on baker peak

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Baker peak lookout.

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Little rock pond.