Last night I probably slept as well as I ever have in a shelter. So when I awoke at 6:20, I was ready to get the day underway. After packing up and having breakfast, I followed Quicksilver and Peach out of camp. In less than a mile I passed them, never to see another hiker for the remainder of the morning. Once again, it was just me and the trail. Other than an occasional squirrel and one deer, seldom did I hear or see anything move on a still, very warm morning.
My plan for the day was to get to Swift Run Gap, near Elkton, and try to hitch a ride to town for lunch and trail food. When I reached the intersection where Skyline Drive intersects with US 33, I put out my thumb. Under the noonday heat the task was anything but fun. After about twenty minutes I changed my location; however, very few cars appeared. Eventually I decided to call the Country View Motel, about three miles down the road, and check on a room. Bob, the owner, said he would be right there to get me.
When today’s trail angel pulled up in his small pick-up, he was accompanied by Shadow, his dog. As I rode to the motel with Shadow perched between Bob and me, I thought about how much my brother would have enjoyed the ride. It’s beginning to seem like every day I meet a new dog that reminds me of Don. Shadow ranks right up there with the “best” that I’ve encountered on the hike.
Since it was only a little after noon and I had only hiked 11.6 miles, I asked Bob if he would slack pack me a few more miles this afternoon. He agreed. First we drove into Elkton where I bought a bag of burgers. Then when we got back to the trail, I found a shady spot near the trailhead to have lunch before embarking on the afternoon portion of the hike. When I did begin I hiked at a quick pace, covering 8.3 additional miles in a little over thee hours. I saw another small bear at a distance and a second deer practically standing on the trail. Only one lone southbound hiker crossed my path.
At the junction to a trail leading to a falls, I paused to chat with a family from Baltimore who were day hiking to a favorite place of Becky, the daughter who was celebrating her 21st birthday. After moving on my pace slowed as the heat began to bother me. I drank almost continuously to stay hydrated. Even so I felt depleted by the time I reached the Lewis Mountain campground. Staggering through the parking lot, I was directed to the camp store by a lady at one of the RV spots.
Having arrived over thirty minutes before Bob was scheduled to pick me up, I bought a soft drink and sat on a bench outside. A young man who said his name was Clifton sat beside me as his wife shopped. He asked about my hike, so I enlightened him somewhat on the AT. Finally Bob and Shadow arrived for the trip back to the motel. On the drive Bob shared some of his personal story. A Rhode Island native, he moved to Virginia a few years back, bought a farm as well as the Country View Motel.
After a shower, a nap, and a meal, I sat outside chatting with Quicksilver and Peach for a while. Bob, who turned 62 six days after I did, brought us each a piece of his birthday cake. With Bob’s permission, I shared some of mine with Shadow. As fatigue began to set in, I retired to my room to get ready for tomorrow’s hike. Again, I have options so when the day begins, I’m not sure where I’ll be when it ends. One thing is for sure, however, I’ll be a little farther north along the Appalachian Trail.