Unsurprisingly, without pints upon quarts of caffeine and with the noise of the fully running creek, Mary and Bruce actually slept. Their morning was started with three ponies chomping on grass around their tent. Luckily they weren't goats, so they still have a tent.
We got ready for the day, tried the hiker renowned Mountain House breakfast skillet, and started for Dickey Gap. We made a slight navigational error and went .8 miles down the Bearpen Trail, luckily it was fairly flat. A nice warm-up?
The first stop for the day was at The Scales, named for the ranchers that would trade their cattle in the highlands since they wouldn't lose their Highland weight when they hiked down from the mountain. We also learned that the ponies were actually introduced to the highlands to keep the shrubs and trees down to their post-forested heights to keep it beautiful for visitors. Every year, the ponies are rounded up, counted, checked for good health, and excess members of the population are sold.
And then, real trail magic! While enjoying lunch and the afternoon sun, who came strolling down the hill towards us but Funky Stuff, cleaned and shaven wearing a Guatemala hat, and his cousin, pushing for a 20 mile day. He had a great time in Guatemala, got schooled in soccer, ate way too much food, and, well, perhaps got too much relaxation, since he was thinking about heading home after the 100 miles with his cousin. Part of his decision might come from the fact that he now has no sleeping bag or tent (by choice) and if it started raining he would probably freeze to death at night. They headed off after a short stay, and we ate a hot lunch (mountain house chili mac, also a winner).
We ran into the section hikers from the day before, they seemed to be doing well. We parted ways with them after Old Orchard Shelter. A couple miles after, we found trail magic! Mary and Bruce saw the setup and hiked right by thinking it was someone's picnic. Tyler and Emily stopped, knowing full well what the spread of picnic items were. Mary asked them if it the items were for sale. To which one of the trail magickers responded, this is trail magic! Lookout and Base Camp had a variety of cold beers, and Arrow and her family had wraps with fresh vegetables, chips, soda, and fruit! Arrow and Lookout thru hiked the year before and were coming down this year to check out Trail Days after their hiking year. They didn't know each other at all in the previous year, and just happened to both trail magic on the same day. Base Camp didn't hike, he was, well, Lookout's Base Camp, but they are thinking of doing it in the future before they start a family. Arrow is heading out this summer to lead Outward Bound excursions. After probably far too long at the trail magic, we grabbed a couple beers and a V8 for the trail (beers for the trail are called Trailies, thanks Lookout), and hit the road.
We made it to the campsites outside Hurricane Mountain Shelter, also right along a stream (not quite as noisy as the Creek from the night before, but white noise all the same). Emily got a fire going, we ate some Mac n cheese with bacon, and we played pass the trash with acorns as chips and managed to stay up beyond the 9:00 cut off. Big living! And only 5.1 miles to extraction.