Random campsite 906.6
Rock Spring Hut 927.9
Total miles: 21.3
We woke up feeling human, alive, and uncursed. All was in order. Of course all the decaying vegetation welcomed all sorts of insects, which find Emily particularly delicious, so she stayed behind the fly screen most of the morning. Luckily for us, the two dozen or so daddy longlegs on top of our rain fly did seemed to be keeping vigilant guard. We have to research what they actually eat, but we liked to think they were protecting us from flies. They, varied in horrible size from quarter to poker chip, to near tea saucer size, kept us safe. Also, at this point in the week, most of our clothing, thermarests, sleeping bag liners, and backpacks are starting to smell a bit funky from being wet all the time and never being able to dry out. We packed up after hopelessly trying to lay out some gear across dead logs in the sun.
We were aiming for about 24 miles today to give ourself an easy 12 into Luray to pick up new shoes and resupply tomorrow. It was quiet in the trail. We ran into a few day hikers who eyed our gear and asked us where we were headed. We are starting to draw some attention these days. It probably helps that there aren't that many people thru hiking in SNP since so many opted to aquablaze; we are very interested to hear reviews with the weather and humidity.
After sixteen miles (not too much to report in the meantime, smooth terrain, no real overlooks, one RV filled campground), we met up with Uncle Puck and Crayola. Uncle Puck desperately needed some Gold Bond which we were happy to provide. He was also heading to the Big Meadows Wayside. Crayola was heading straight to Rock Spring Gap, where we thought would probably get water before moving on.
We made it to the Wayside at 5:15 and proceeded to eat a foolish amount of food. Together, we ate a fried chicken dinner (four fried tenders) with coleslaw, a biscuit, and mashed potatoes with gravy, a footlong hot dog with fries, a BLT with fries, a burger with fries, a blackberry milkshake, six cups of water, three cups of iced tea, and two very large blackberry ice creams. Apparently blackberry ice cream is a thing in SNP Waysides. Other than the ice cream, the food wasn't the best, but it didn't really matter.
After eating all that in a few minutes, we stayed to check up on the weather and wait for Dean and Magnet. Sadly, they never showed. We later got a text from them saying they got held up. We learned that there was supposed to be some ferocious storm the next day in the mountains with damaging winds, hail, and who knows what else. We decided we would definitely try to push past Rock Spring Shelter, which we wouldn't manage to do because of a weak headlamp.
Outside of the Wayside we were reassembling our gear and a curious man approached us and asked where we were going. When we said Maine, his face lit up, he said he knew it and started picking our brains. He was super jazzed and we encouraged him to hit the trail as soon as possible. He said he's always wanted to. He was a former marine as well so kicking butt in the woods with a large pack would probably come second nature. He was so excited, he even went to get his wife and daughter to introduce us. He said his wonderful father's day gift was his daughter, Faith, and wife, Nette (we believe), went hiking with him. It was sweet. And we were pretty complimented and made to feel like total celebs, so much so that we became narcissistic jerks and seemed to have missed the name of the man himself! Tyler feels like he heard Sarge when introductions were made, and if it wasn't that, maybe it could be his trail name when he starts the trail.
We said our goodbyes to get back to finish up our miles for the day. Still, we didn't get back to the trail until 7:45. By 8:45 it was getting hard to see, and by 9:30 we were at Rock Spring Shelter and had been wearing our headlamps for thirty minutes. To make matters worse, horrible ankle rocking, slip sliding, toe stunning rocks had appeared for the first time in our SNP experience. We had to stop deciding just try and wake up real early the next morning to beat the storm.
Crayola and Uncle Puck were already at the shelter. Crayola gave us the rundown as to where to find the privy, water, bearbox and tent sites in the dark (after one section hiked tried to tell us that all the legal tent sites were taken). Crayola pointed us to a great spot, only slightly slanted, near the bear box. They were waking up at 4 am to hit the trail to avoid the storm. We said we would try the same (but had no real intention of being that nuts). We set up our tent, threw our food in the bear box (love these things), grabbed enough water for the morning and day, and made it to bed at 10:45 just as the section hiked decided to blast his Fleetwood Mac Pandora station at full volume across the shelter. Just when we thought it was getting shut off, the next song came up. Let's just say, as this blog was not written day of due to time constraints, the music continued until 11:30pm and then started up again at 6:55am.