Summary: Random campsite: 1066.2 Random campsite: 1090.1 Total miles: 23.9 It was finally high time to make up some of the miles we missed in the previous days. We got hiking at 8:30 and took our first stop at Iron Forge campground. We grabbed some potable water (potable water had been widely available lately). A small summer camp playing a race-soccer-golf game near us were instructed that hitting the hikers on the way to their goal was cause for an immediate loss. Emily stood in the path of their goal for extra challenge. She has a hard time not joining in when a soccer ball is present. About 3 miles back on the trail, Grant checked out an overlook, and we carried on. Thirty minutes later, we stopped for lunch. Grant caught up soon after (he's fast). As we were packing up lunch, Peregrine strolled past, we grabbed him and added a member to our little tramily. After lunch, Peregrine and Grant headed off at their super speeds and they disappeared into the distance. The next terrain challenge was a series of rocky hills. Tyler, while navigating the rocks, nearly stepped on a four foot rattlesnake which rattled a warning at him. It was fairly pudgy in the middle and slithered lackadaisically across the trail. We think he had just eaten. Both of our hearts were racing. We slinked by when the coast looked clear and sped off, grateful that it was a rattlesnake and not a copperhead. We have come to appreciate the rattlesnake because it at least warns you.
The next stop was Caledonia State park, which had an enormous swimming pool, swing set, beautiful manicured lawns, a snack bar, and a magical little brook. We certainly wanted to stay, but that would mean we wouldn't make the miles needed to complete our cookie quest. We got ice cream though, and an enormous soda (we crave soda now, it feels gross to even type it), and a freeze pop.
We continued on and passed the famously well decorated Quarry Gap Shelter (complete with picket fence, welcome sign and potted plants). We talked with some sarcastic day hikers on the trail (hint to the day hikers: don't tell any of the few ladies on the trail that a man should be carrying her pack for her), and passed Illegal tented out on a beautiful ridge line site.
Our eventual goal was a campsite near Milesburn cabin. The cabin itself had a spring, but was a private, rentable cabin that we were not allowed to camp near. When we got there, there was some discussion as to what "near" meant as we were tired and done walking for the day.
Grant ran up ahead and found a little stealth spot just beyond. It was just far enough that there was no danger that we would be asked to leave at night or early in the morning and close enough that our tired legs were happy. We set up, made a fire, and the four of us talked far too long into the night.