Random campsite 890
Random campsite 906.6
Total miles: 16.6
In the morning we heard what sounded like lawn mowers and weed whackers. Turns out it was indeed SNP (Shenandoah National Park) maintenance people (and by maintenance people we mean the wonderful volunteers of the Potomac AT Club) doing their thing and trimming tall grass away from the trail, which is great for wet days and tick season (we are at a tick count of five). We made sure to thank each of them when we walked by.
The flat continued nicely today so we again made great time. However, the day would see us socializing. We would walk for an hour, chat for at least thirty minutes with section, trail magicers or day hikers, then continue on. The first stop was with Tim, aka Papa Lucky. His son, Lucky, was about fifteen miles ahead of us, and Papa Lucky was helping him and others slack pack as well as providing trail magic. We, fully in the thrall of hiker's hunger now, ate fresh veggies, chips, bananas, oranges, and drank a couple sodas. After a few minutes, Pat with a Symbol, a thru hiker was headed off trail for a wedding, stopped by to give us donuts too. Pat seemed incredibly sad, in an almost delirious way, to be headed away from the trail.
We didn't learn much about Papa Lucky, but we did learn a fair amount about Lucky from the Papa. Main fact, he was one of the unlucky ones to get giardia at the beginning of the trail and was out for nearly two weeks. But since his recovery, he's been crushing it and Papa says he's never seen him happier. He says afterwards, he wouldn't be surprised if he stopped mechanical engineering and became a park ranger.
We continued on. We were again walking through clouds, with occasional sun. The clouds now, instead of cold pockets of wet, are hot jungle like zones of humidity. The tiniest effort from us and every piece of clothing is drenched with sweat and stays so because has no place to go. It was not possible for anything to dry off all day.
We took a break to eat lunch (yep, even after the trail magic) near a stream which cooled down the air a bit. Also, soon after that we passed 900 miles which seemed like a real big step. The hundreds kind of fly by now and we haven't really felt particularly excited about a hundred crossing since 500. 100 from 1000 seems sweet.
After a spot of uphill and more unthinkable amounts of sweat, we saw Willie and Turtle. They had been hanging at camp since 1:30, since they decided to celebrate 900 with a short day. We chatted about plans for the future and hoped to meet up on June 24th in Harper's Ferry.
To continue the trend, after another hour, we met Uncle and Determined. Determined was finishing sections of his thru hike after nearly getting hypothermia in a thru hike attempt that went until winter time (he says he's not the fastest) the year before. Uncle was flip flopping after getting intense shin splints a month ago. Shin splints have knocked a number of hikers out of the game since Springer, not many come back. He seemed to get a big kick out of the name Huggables and warned us about the black flies up north. After living twenty three years in Africa doing refugee help, he said he could only compare black flies to teetsee flies. They are that bad. We should miss the worst of it, but who knows.
Again, another hour (possibly an hour and a half since we were running towards five thirty now), we got to High Top Shelter. We had turned the phone on recently to check Guthook (a GPS map-based navigational smartphone guide app) and got a text that Dean and Michael (now named Magnet for seeing three Bears with Dean as soon as he joined up. Sadly, we are still bearless). They were staying at the shelter so we popped over to get water and say hello. In order to not have a horrible next few days though, we didn't stay long. Magnet and Dean said they would try and do twenty the next day to meet us at the Big Meadows Wayside restaurant the next day. The Waysides are little gift shops and restaurants off of the Skyline Road that you can hike out to. This one is only .4 off the trail. No brainer.
At 6:15, we started looking for a campsite, but didn't find anything until 7. The SNP rangers try and deter hikers from camping away from the huts by sometimes removing stealth sites. The "site" we found was in a strange area. The trees were alive but all looked dead. The ground was covered in decaying leaves and twigs. It made for some serious bug action. Daddy Long Legs immediately climbed all over our stuff. We called them the Daddy Defense League which we hoped would help protect us from the bugs. If witches live in SNP they would set up here. After making pasta, Tyler spilled some of the boiling pasta water and realized the area was covered in worms. He felt both bad about lobster cooking some worms. We realized that we were going to sleep on probably dozens of worms.
As the night moved on, we had a short rainstorm. Emily peaked her head out and noticed a large number of fireflies were all lighting up on the same plane about ten feet from our tent and blinking in near unison. If we wake up as frogs, in a stew, or otherwise cursed, it shouldn't come as suprise to you dear reader.