11.4 miles, 1187.6 overall (501 shelter)
The wedding goes swimmingly, lots of old friends are there, I get many compliments on the beard, and Christy and I get some quality time in. I even get to watch Moneyball while I’m home. Now it is time to return to the trail. Unfortunately the weather has gotten warmer while I’ve been gone so when Christy drops me off just a bit before 3 it is over 90 degrees. Luckily there isn’t much humidity though so it feels like 90 rather than 130.
The trail climbs to get back to the ridge. I had hoped to do an easy 10 miles to the shelter and stay mostly clean but on the way up I break into a sweat. I can tell this is going to be a smelly week. On the way up I run into Caveman. It turns out he also went home for the weekend for his brother’s graduation. He got dropped off only a little bit before I did. His plan is the same -hike 10 miles to the 501 shelter. Neither of us have a ton of motivation.
The 10 miles go by fairly quickly. When I’m almost to the shelter I pass a view where there are 3 day hikers. I hear one of them wondering if the haze they see on the horizon is pollution or fog. I stop to inform them that it is pollution and that they can tell the difference by the color. This starts a conversation in which they find out I’m hiking from Georgia to Maine. They are incredibly impressed and they have lots of questions – how long have I been out, how do get my food, do I carry a gun. While we’re talking one takes a picture of me and informs me that he has uploaded it to Facebook. Pretty soon I’ll be a celebrity!
I finally break away and get to the shelter where I find all new hikers. Austin is a woman from Austin (hence the name). Troy doesn’t have a trailname and started the trail in Virginia right after graduating from Virginia Tech. Professor Oak also arrives and is another VT graduate making 3 in one shelter for the second night (the night with 2% and Froot Loop being the other). In addition Lemmiwinks is here and is from Blacksburg. Crazy coincidences. Or perhaps there’s something about VT that drives people to hike.
The shelter itself is well-known. It is located just off the highway and is known along with Partnership shelter for having a shower and being able to order food to be delivered. Unfortunately I arrive after the delivery deadline for the evening, but this is fine since I have a full pack and would like to start eating some of the weight I’m carrying.
While I prefer tenting, tonight I opt for the shelter. I have arrived late so it is the easy option and the shelter seems to be a bit more comfortable than the typical shelter. Perhaps I’ll be able to sleep despite the hard wood floors. Tomorrow I need to get up early in order to beat the heat and get 24 miles done to get into Port Clinton on the Appalachian Trail.