April 22nd

Today I hiked from Derrick Knob Shelter to Siler’s Bald Shelter, a distance of 5.7 miles.

The word of the day today is rain. We had a thunderstorm roll in last night, which led to one of the best nights sleep I’ve had in a while, but during the day today, I got completely soaked. The Teton Sports poncho that I’d brought was a complete failure. For one, it didn’t stay in place, so it failed to cover my pack. What’s worse, it didn’t actually hold off the hard rain, meaning I was soaked underneath. Hiking while wet is not fun. At all. The wind began to pick up later in the day which meant it also got very very cold. I didn’t get a chance to really see much today since everything was covered in fog, and with the rain constantly coming down, I felt nervous bringing out my phone to take pictures.

Today has been a day of near constant prayer. I cannot express enough how much the rain and wet depressed me, and I felt desperate calling out to Jesus to get me through the day. I had the worship song “Healing Rain” playing through my head all day. Praying that God would sustain me. I prayed over again that the rain would end (it didn’t). I prayed that the shelter would be soon, that I could stop. Most of those prayers weren’t answered, but I did make it to the shelter. It’s frustrating when praying to not receive the answer I want, but if I push on, I find that the end remains cared for. I’ve found while out here that I’m more and more reaching a goal of “constantly in prayer” as I beg and plead for the energy to get over the next ridge, or to the next resting spot. I do not say this to say that I’m somehow achieving any sense of holiness in the common sense, rather that I find more and more that as I’m pushed to my absolute end, I find that I have no other choice. I’ve felt like I’m being broken down so many times, but I hope to continue to pull through. I should be clear. I am incredibly blessed to be out here, and it’s an absolute honor to be able to do this with the support of so many wonderful people. I try to remember that in days like today when it’s also a struggle. I’m not sure how this should end yet, and I may not know until it has ended. I left because I very clearly felt like God was telling me I needed to take this on, but from the very beginning I clearly felt God saying that no particular result was promised. So it is my duty to put one foot in front of the other while I can, and enjoy and learn from as much of the trip as I get
As I reached the shelter, I was particularly glad to meet my friend Dylan, a fellow blogger from Appalachian Trials whom I’ve corresponded with several times as we both prepared for our hikes. He left much later than I did, but his pace has been much faster, so he caught up to me today. I got to the shelter fairly early, so we all had time to change out of our wet clothes. I’m excited that I’ve found a new reason to love my Scrubba bag, as it’s completely waterproof, so my backup clothes were completely dry. Unfortunately, everything else in my pack was soaked, so I had to spread out my things to dry. The shelters in the Smokies have fireplaces in them, so another hiker was able to get a fire going to help us warm up and dry. We set our shoes out around the fire to dry. Unfortunately, the heels of my new boots got singed, and one actually melted a bit. I confess to am emotional crash when I saw this considering the amount I’d paid for them. I prayed for a moment and felt that I needed to put them on. So I put on the boots and hiked the short trail to get water. I realized that the damage was not as severe as I initially believed, so I was comforted greatly.

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