Day 35

I’m up late again and pack it up by 9:30. The filmmaker and I were the last 2 at the shelter eating breakfast. His trail name is Canon and he was intrigued by my Sony camera. (He shoots with Canon).

The trail was uneventful until I got the the Elkwallow Wayside where I had an overpriced cheese burger and a brilliant blackberry milkshake. I should have just bought 3 milkshakes. Lots of hikers were there at 1 o’clock, several that had already walked 15 miles. I hung around there til about 2:30 with Somewhere finishing our goodies.

I saw a dark cloud to the south and figured we were about the get wet. Sure enough 15 minutes later the bottom fell out. It lasted about 20 minutes and the. Cleared for a moment. Somewhere hiked on but I could see it wasn’t quite done. 15 minutes later the second bottom fell out. It rained hard for about 45 minutes. I sought shelter under a breezeway at the bathrooms with 6 other hikers. We joked about walking out into the rain to wash up. At 4 the rain had slowed to a drizzle and I thought it was save enough to hike on. On the way up a mountain I heard a crashing sound to my left. I looked over to see a bear shimmying down a tree. I fumbled for my air horn and blew it a few times. The bear ran off behind me.

The rain kept pouring down and I tried to keep my self more dry with my umbrella. The trail had become a creek. By the time I reached the top my feet and shorts were soaked. I walked along the skyline drive to the hogback mountain overlook. 4 huge charter buses has just pulled up with a crowd of teenagers. I walked along the road as they stared at me. The sun had just come out to deliver a beautiful view of the valley below.

Through more woods and muddy trail I reached Gravel Springs hut about 6:30. 7 other hikers were already set up in the shelter including Somewhere. I found a spot to put up my tent in rocky and compact red dirt. I ate my beans and rice at the shelter as hikers talked about the best songs to listen to when it’s raining. The verdict: Natasha Bedingfields’ Unwritten. When I finished my dinner I climbed into my tent for another chapter of Harry Potter. I figured the rain was done so I left 2 of my doors open. Tomorrow would be the last day in the Shenandoahs.

Miles: 945 – 958.1 (13.1)

Total: 352.7