Long Day's Night
Today went from one challenge to the next--even into the middle of the night. The day got off to a bad start when Takoda managed to tangle himself in the picket line at LF Ranch in the morning before we left. He ended up with a nasty rope burn on one of his back pasterns, and I was delayed for a while as I tried to doctor him up to the best of my ability before heading out on what I had planned as a 21 mile day. But then, when we got to the spring where I had planned to camp, we found that it was dry, and I had no choice but to keep on going. We ended up covering 6 more miles before we located another water source around 9pm. We had been given a head's up from a hiker we met on the trail that there would be water at this spring, but then it turned out that there was nowhere to camp with the horses. So we had to go back a 1/4 mile to a camp spot on the ridgeline, empty Takoda's panniers, and go back to the spring to fill several 5 gallon jugs, load them on Takoda, and return to the camp.
I finally got to bed at 11 pm and decided to skip setting up the tent since it looked like a clear night. Well that changed at 3am when I was woken up by thunder and lightning and the sky opening up to downpour on me in my sleeping bag. I rushed around frantically in the mud and rain to set up my tent but was wet by the time I finally got inside. It didn't let up for most of the night, though the rain did change to hail over the course of the night. Overall, it was tough, miserable night on the AZT, but that's just what happens sometimes when Mother Nature decides to remind you who is boss.