Miles from Springer Mountain: 580.4
Miles to Mount Katahdin: 1611.6
On the 9th I completed my longest day on trail so far – 26.0 miles. The terrain and weather were perfect for a high mileage day so I gratefully took advantage! Only a day after hiking through a field of ponies, I passed through a field of cattle grazing on the grass – they weren’t as friendly as the ponies. I was able to make a pit stop at the Mount Rogers Outdoor Center and purchase a Mountain Dew as a small personal reward. It’s not much and obviously not healthy, but it’s little things like a pop that brighten a long day. I stayed a shelter next to a beautiful creek, the overlook was small enough to see the wondrous array of stars over my head.
The next morning I passed along a historic school house that has been made into a hiker haven. Some friends of mine had spent the night there so I stopped by to say hello and take advantage of the trail magic that was there. Next it was only a short hike to the I-81 underpass where I did a small (expensive) resupply at a couple gas stations and enjoyed a hearty southern breakfast at The Barn Restaurant.
The next few miles were through balds and spacious flatlands, no better way to enjoy the green grass than by sitting and relaxing for a few minutes. It kills my pace and lengthens my hiking day, but it makes it all worth it to see the sun and catch my breath. A break was earned too by crossing the quarter-way mark! After 39 days on trail, I am finally one-fourth of the way done. I ended my day at Knot Maul Branch Shelter and had my first experience with shelter bugs, the cold weather had kept them at bay until now! I still got a good nights sleep even after saying some unkind words to the creepy-crawlers sharing the shelter with me.
Today was a great day of hiking! Although I had to conquer a 2000 foot climb, the view at the top was worth every foot. I was told a sinkhole millions of years ago created this open valley that is now inhabited by Amish. After enjoying lunch I walked along the ridge line to my current abode, the Jenkins Shelter. There is a great crew of friendly faces and it has been an enjoyable night, we are all looking forward to a big burger at one of the trailside restaurants tomorrow!
Thank you everyone for your patience, I apologize for not getting my posts out more often! Sometimes I can hike in range of cell service all day only to descend into a valley for shelter and the service disappears. Nonetheless, I appreciate the support, over a quarter of the way done!