Rock Spring Hut 927.9
Thornton Gap 942
Total miles: 14.1
We woke up at 5am and checked the forecast. The rain, originally supposed to start at noon, now wasn't supposed to start until 2. Though forecasts are not to be trusted it was all the excuse we needed to go back to sleep for another hour. We did actually get up at 6 and were hiking at 7:15. Thanks to Mr. Music. The dj from the night before moved into the shelter to, it seemed, have a slow breakfast morning and have a hey look we are in a shelter photo shoot with his buddy as they played, to switch it up, an Eagles Pandora station. We happily left to get hiking but, not as happily, we were leaving with the song Hotel California in our heads.
On the trail, the rocks continued from the night before which slowed us down considerably. Through our old shoes we could make out every detail on every rocks surface. There were some breaks, but the rocks continued for most of the day. When we hit Mary's Rock, with just a couple miles left, we couldn't bear any additional foot pounding (we had had many tantilizing views of Luray and the surrounding countryside from The Pinnacle before) and headed for the gap.
Despite the non idealities, we made it to the gap by 1 as real nasty looking clouds, seemingly out of nowhere, started building in the sky. Uncle Puck, having started hiking at five, was waiting at the gap and had called the owner of Open Arms Hostel for a ride. She came about a half hour later and said she would be willing to give us a ride even though we would be staying at the Budget Inn (the name of which made her shudder). We really appreciate hostels and have had great experiences in them, but sometimes it's just nice to have a room to ourselves, especially when the cost is comparable, per person, to a hostel. We paid Alison a bit for her trouble all the same.
The Budget Inn did look pretty shabby from the outside, but the owners were nice and the rooms themselves looked fine (with a new carpet and a little work on the outside appearance, it should evoke no shudders). We ordered some delivery Italian from Anthony's. Emily waited for the food and Tyler headed to the outfitters to pick up fuel, a new headlamp, the shoes, and new bug spray (deet doesn't seem to be doing as well as the natural stuff we originally tried).
Appalachian Outdoors Adventures is small, but has everything (well except headlamps since they sold out). Elise who helped Tyler out after he had dragged her away from an aquarium conversation with Dirty Duck, was super sweet and helpful, even when she discovered that the warranty Oboz had not arrived. Tyler had called the Oboz contact who checked the tracking. Unfortunately some flooding somewhere had delayed the shoes so they wouldn't be there until Wednesday (it's Monday) and we don't really have time for a zero at the moment. Tyler said he would problem solve and call back tomorrow.
Emily's shoes had arrived and, to our delight. She stuck with the Salewa Firebirds, which are supposed to be approach shoes, not for thru hiking the AT but they work well for her. Instead of dinos this time she got flamingos.
While Emily tried to solve problems with our continually wet and growing stinky gear, Tyler headed out to do laundry and resupply (about a half mile down the road). Really, to be honest, his trip was an excuse to also grab an enormous slushee from 711.
After running through our errands, we walked down the street to the movie theater, which was also an excuse to eat a ton of popcorn, candy, and for Tyler to drink another slushee (though technically the movie theater one was called a freezee). We saw 47 Meters Down, our opinion of which we don't have time to go into here because it had a chance to be great and decided to screw it up. We headed back to the inn, vegged out with TV and tons of water.