After passing the Hell’s Hill Trail the trail got a lot better. We were following the ridgeline and the rocks became a lot easier to cross. There were fewer boulder fields and the trail seemed to be in a lot better shape. By 3:30 we reached the long trail down to Reese Hollow Shelter and began our descent.
Initially the descent was relatively steep, but after a few hundred feet the grade lessened and the yellow-blazed trail made its descent into the shelter. We crossed two side trails before dropping down into a heavily wooded glade where we found the shelter. Johnny B and I both remarked that this was the furthest that we had ever hiked off the main trail to get into a shelter for the night.
However, the long descent was worth it! Reese Hollow Shelter is a wonderful site. It is a large, single decked shelter with a large overhanging porch covering a picnic table. Although we generally aren’t into campfires there is a really nice enclosed fire pit at the shelter. The shelter maintainers have done a wonderful job with this site! The piped spring is about 150’ from the shelter. The privy is above the shelter and it is a nice one…and the maintainer even provides toilet paper! This is a Hilton among shelters!
We settled in for the night. It cooled off nicely and because of the shelter’s easterly location in a deep hollow it got dark early. By 6:30 we were already using our headlamps. It was an early night – we were exhausted. I tried to stay awake, laying on my sleeping bag and listening to the sounds of the evening.
And I must put in a plug for volunteerism: these trails do not maintain themselves! Whenever you go for a trail run, there's a whole organization--largely invisible--that supports trail construction and maintenance. An organization comprised of individuals like you and me, who enjoy having trails and want to give back by working on said trails.
So...if you are an Ultrarunner, you should also be a trail maintainer.