Miles today: 21.0
Miles total: 1349.4
Miles total: 1349.4
Currently sitting in my tent...
Very weird to wake up in the valley. There was dew on the grass in the field. Without trees to obscure it, the orange glow of the rising sun illuminated the sky and made life totally visible at 6:30. I got up and packed up my stuff as Pink Leprechaun rustled around on the picnic table nearby. He sent home his tent, so camping out in a field was a unique experience for him. As we were ready to head over to Weasie's for breakfast, a couple of girls walked across the field to a tent that wasn't there when we went to bed. Some guy had walked out of it earlier, coughing up a lung. The girls were upset that he wasn't there to give them a cigarette, but Pink offered them some of his tobacco to roll one of their own. The girl took two instead of one before Pink could say anything, but he didn't act upset. That's just how he is. We dined at Weasie's and discussed plans for the day. Pink still wasn't sure if his plan to meet up with his friend would work, so he was kind of in limbo. We sat outside the Shell station, I with a 48 ounce soda and he with a proportionally-sized cappuccino, and weighed his options. He decided that if his plans fell through, he'd like to hike with me. Someone I know at the shelter every night!! I not-so-secretly wished his plans to fail. A little consistency on the trail would be great, and he felt the same way. It looked as if my dream was coming true until his friend said she'd call in a half hour. Anxious to get back on the trail, I told him I supported his decision and that he knew where I would be. So as it works out, I'm not yet sure what he decided! I caught a hitch and resumed my journey.
I started hiking from Rockfish Gap, the point where Skyline Drive becomes the Blue Ridge Parkway (or vice-versa). The trail was still easy, but the well-groomed trails of Shenandoah are gone. I made good time stepping over and around rock piles a la southern New Jersey. I stopped by Paul C. Wolfe Shelter and found more writing from my friend Seabiscut, the guy who gave me the creeps at a shelter a couple nights ago. He likes to write his name on everything, and it cracks me up that he spells his own trail name wrong. Anyways, the shelter was very nice, with a privy where you could look out at the woods as you took care of business. What awaited me were a couple of switchbacked climbs up to the top of Humpback Mountain. I made whale sounds at the summit, but the mountain did not respond in turn. As I ate lunch on a rock face overlooking Wintergreen Ski Resort on the opposite mountain, I talked to a group of Washington and Lee students out for a pre-orientation trip. They asked me about how many calories I eat a day (I didn't know) and admired the Crocs I have dangling from my pack. Crocs are quite a divisive piece of footwear. You either love them or hate them. I hiked on, eager to get settled in at the shelter. I stopped to ask myself why I was rushing. I decided I should slow down and enjoy the walk. As I pondered this, I was attacked by a group of yellow jackets, prompting me to run down the trail. So much for taking it slow. Three stings and three miles later, I got to Maupin Field Shelter. There was another group of Washington and Lee students overflowing from the shelter. "I'm assuming it's full?" I asked hopefully. They offered to move out but I couldn't ask them to do that. I opted for the tent site nearby, but stopped over to cook dinner and talk with them. It worked out for me, seeing how I have a quesadilla sitting in my gut now. Plus they're nice kids. RAIN tomorrow! Also my first 4000-foot mountain in, uhhm, forever I think. Lots happening.
Pictures: beginning of the Blue Ridge Parkway; view from the flank of Humpback Mountain.