Day 43

I rolled out of bed at 8 and head for the waffles. I’m the last one to eat. I hurriedly eat 2 with bananas and attend to my backpack. It appears that I have lost my headlamp. Probably yesterday when I was trying to rearrange my things in the day pack after the water spilled. Oh well. I throw my sheets into the dirty bin and gather my cheese and hummus from the refrigerator. I walk downstairs to wait for the shuttle with No Collar. He informs me that our shuttle is 15 minutes late. Yoshi and Eeyore join us for a slackpack south back to the hostel. Our shuttle driver today is Trail Boss. We are dropped off at Turners Gap and No Collar picks up the tab claiming “trail magic.” I thank him as he hikes north and into the woods. I take a minute to situate my pack and I’m on my way by 10am. I’m not feeling so good today with the aches and pains of yesterday persisting into the morning. I take a stretch break 3 miles in and stop at the water fountain at the park of the original George Washington Monument which is in the shape of a milk bottle.

The trail was a forgiving gradual up and down for about 7 miles with a footbridge over I-70. The climb up to Annapolis Rocks was a combination of steep and wide log steps and moderately graded trail. I stopped for lunch there. Hot again today with my shirt sticking to me by 11am. The way down was marred with rocks. 6 more miles for the day and I retired at Ensign Cowall Shelter, .2 from a busy two lane road which leads to Smithburg, MD. It was 5:30 and I couldn’t go any further.

I had arrived just as No Collar was putting his pack down. The water source was a walk down hill and No Collar offered to go fetch it for me. I said I could do it and would probably need to go down there anyway. He insisted and so I gave him my water bottles. I desperately need to wash my face and lower legs after a day of baking in the sun and kicking up mud and dirt. I took my bandana and followed down the path. No Collar had just finished filling up when I arrived. It was a piped spring with a good flow and I took a minute to enjoy the cold clear water on my face. I walked back up to find a tent spot back behind the shelter. I could hear the nosey road pretty loudly from the site. I walked back over to cook dinner and made a mess of chili mac plus soup vegetables. In an effort to save fuel I boiled the veggies first and let them soak a while before putting the chili mac in. Not enough water. I ended up eating a slightly crunchy dinner. A young hiker was inside the shelter with his dog and was cooking too. He was just stopping to eat before moving on. He liked to set up camp at 2 am to beat the hiking in the heat. There was also a section hiker named Twitch and a father and son sleeping in hammocks. Dark clouds blew in as we ate with strong gusts of wind but no rain, thankfully. I returned to my tent before sunset nervous about being so close to the road. There was a loud group of what sounded like high schoolers up above the camp site. Luckily they quieted down at dark. I listened for a while to Harry Potter before sticking an ear plug in and closing my eyes.

Miles: 1043 – 1056.6 (13)

Total: 450.1