We only had to go 2.5 miles today, since Funky's brother would be meeting us at Devil's Fork Gap tonight (to camp) in order to drive Funky home to South Bend and us to Erwin. We had a relaxing morning packing up, reading, and playing shelter skee ball. For those that don't know, which should be everyone since Funky made it up, shelter skee ball is when you roll a tennis ball up the shelter roof and see who can get closest to the edge without rolling it off. Emily won. We got going to get out our big miles at around 11.
When we made it to Devil's Fork Gap, we met Good Times, at whom Tyler instinctively yelled Let the Good Times Roll. Apparently thats a pretty common greeting. We saw signs for Rector Laurel Hostel (i.e. pizza and beer) in a half mile so we gathered the courage to push even a little further, knowing we would have to backtrack, which we are morally opposed to.
Our greeter at the hostel was a fleet of at least 3 chickens that all scurried across the road right before our eyes and an upset dog we later learned was named Oreo. We sat under a newly constructed awning connected to the little bunkhouse while we awaited the owner. Soon after, a neighbor arrived on foot and told us the owner would be back soon. He also warned us to beware of Oreo since he had a notoriously nippy temperament. A lady in a van also then drove up to tell us the owners would be back soon. The older brother of the hostel owner arrived and made us some frozen pizzas on the grill. He had a pretty serious tobacco plug in his lip and it made him a bit difficult to understand. A shirtless man on an ATV then arrived. They discussed the propane tank not working properly. Finally, the hostel owner showed up. He made sure we had whatever we needed, including corn dogs and beer (it would have been very easy to spend large sums of money there quickly with his attentiveness). The original neighbor then returned on a riding lawn mower (there was a great deal of strange vehicular activity), seemingly to observe us interacting. After the entire situation became a little too awkward, we said our thanks and went back to the trail to hang out by the beautiful creek crossing.
Good Times stayed with us until about 3:30 since he didn't have far to go either. His partner was driving down to pick him up so they could visit for at least the night. We exchanged numbers with the hope of meeting up in Erwin, since, as one might imagine, Good Times really could brighten a day.
We headed back to Devil's Fork Gap with the intention of making camp, though we heard there was trail magic. We felt a little bad taking trail magic when we had hardly hiked, but it was turning out to be a hot,cloudless day of socializing, so, well, let the Good Times Roll.
Onesimus, a trail angel we had previously met hiking, was slinging Yeungling and oranges for those who abstained. We met Organic Trooper and Chewie, who Funky had recently hiked with. Onesimus shared the story of his biblical name and his 2004 and 2009 thru hikes. After another hour of socializing,we headed back towards Rector Laurel to make camp.
About .1 miles, just beyond the beautiful meadow into the treeline, we found an open area that seemed to be an old cow grazing area (hinted at by ancient cow patties). We had shade during the day, plenty of dead and down for a final night (for a while at least) of fire, and a nice flat open area to avoid weeds and poison ivy for setting up tents. We relaxed, read, and played dry bag horse until sunset. Since we had a fair amount of food left, we cooked dinner for the three of us. Funky promptly added oatmeal to his portion of the fettuccini Alfredo because he is a strange strange lad. Though he did later admit it would have been better without.
Funky got a fire going when the sun went down. We huddled close since it got cold, fast after the sun went down. We reminisced over our first month of hiking. It seemed, knowing Funky would be out for two weeks, we were all feeling suddenly nostalgic. Funky cowboy camped for the night, and we headed to our tent since we may never be able to trust that a clear night will