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Day 89: Camping 101

Summary Random Campsite: 969.4 Random Campsite: 991.0 Total Miles: 21.6 Wild Card, who was a self proclaimed late riser, actually got going early this morning because the sun heated up his tent too much. It didn't bode well for the day. Atlas and Lotus strolled by on the way to Front Royal to resupply. We got hiking a little while after. Even with a slight grade, all of our clothes were soaked through immediately. We took a snack break at the Tom and Molly Denton shelter, which was summer camp paradise. The shelter had a solar shower, a tap off of the solar shower for water, a huge beautiful shelter with a porch and benches, a picnic table, a clean privy, and to top it all off, a horseshoe course. Mishap and Uncle Puck arrived soon after and told us wild tales of Thai food, ice cream, and a delicious pub meal covered by the patrons for the thru hikers while they stopped off in Front Royal. It's tough to hear stories like that still a few days from town. We had a bit of an uphill afterwards, but the terrain was forgiving so the 800 feet went quickly.

With 200 feet to go after a brief downhill, we stopped at Manassas Shelter for lunch. Wild Card was just finishing up filtering water, so we got to catch up on the day. Then we had the shelter to ourselves and tried to dry some of our wet clothes. Of course, with so much humidity, there was no hope. Tyler swore his shirt was more wet after hanging it up.

*Manasses Shelter log book

We hurried down the trail after lunch since time on the clock was running down. Also, we heard new details from Grant, a hiker we had met on night one on the approach trail and had last seen in Franklin (mile 109) that he was trying to catch back up to us after taking time off for a wedding. So, for the first time ever, we were ahead of him. We expected to see him around Harper's Ferry. 

With a few miles left before hitting twenty we passed into Sky Meadows State Park, a 4.1 mile stretch that didn't allow overnight renting. Still, the park was the flattest, widest, best terrain we may have encountered in the trail so far. Sky Meadow was the most apt description of the area. Over long grasses, unimpeded by trees, we could see far into the surrounding mountains. Still, we didn't have too much time to enjoy the view and the miles went quickly. We finally hit the stream we wanted to camp at which offered some shallow downstream pools we could wash off some of our sweat in. A small tent site just off the trail seemed like a good spot to camp, but Emily noticed some toilet paper sticking out from under a rock, and sure enough someone had used this camp spot, not fifteen feet from the water, as a toilet. Unfortunately, we just didn't have the energy to move more miles, so using sticks, rocks, and a lot of will power and courage, we excavated a large area, covered it back up with dirt and rocks, and set up the tent. After our baths, a cool down and exercising our best denial, we headed to bed. 

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