My good friend and hiking buddy, Alton, recently diagnosed my situation with “not having anyone to share the misery.” Today I not only had others around me most of the day, but I met and hiked awhile with Misery, a young man from Buffalo. Just after beginning today’s walk at US 9, I was passed in succession over about an hour by Tugboat, Johnny Walker, Chickadee, and Funnybone, as well as Misery. I wound up leapfrogging with these hikers throughout the day, and am sheltering with them tonight at the RPH Shelter, a fully enclosed structure with bunks. Pizza has been ordered and should arrive shortly. Despite the warm evening and a few bugs, I’m glad to be in the woods with fellow thru hikers tonight.
Early in today’s hike the trail as usual offered up a good bit of variety. Most of the rather flat terrain was forgiving even though muddy portions slowed my movement. There were no rock scrambles, and the climbs were minimal. When I reached Dennytown Rd. I stopped for lunch. All of the above mentioned hikers were also taking a break. Someone commented how rare it was for this many thru hikers to be gathered in the middle of the day. I hiked out while the others continued their break.
Not long after, the rain began. For a brief time it kept the mosquitoes away. When it ceased, however, the critters began swarming again. For the past few days I sincerely say that the pests are more a deterrent to morale than any other factor. I must have sprayed myself at least five times. At one point I paused to talk with a southbound section hiker, Jennifer, from Long Island, who asked to borrow some spray. I happily obliged since the swarm around her seemed larger than mine. The only relief came when the trail gained in elevation.
When I got to the rocks with a view of Canopus Lake, I took another break with Misery and Funnybone. Then I hiked with Funnybone for about an hour prior to Shenandoah Mountain and the 9/11 Memorial. A triathlete from Boulder, Funnybone is only the third hiker I have met in his 40’s. I enjoyed the brief time we hiked together since we talked a little about endurance training. At the memorial I took a brief break but quickly hiked on, leaving Funnybone, Chickadee, and Misery relaxing. From there I made good time, arriving at the shelter a little after 5:00. Fortunately, I was able to get one of the six bunks available.
So once again, I’m spending a night in the woods even though the shelter is enclosed. As I write this entry, I’m trying to hurry because the battery in my phone is at 10%, and of course, there’s no place to recharge tonight. Hopefully, I’ll be able to do so at a deli early tomorrow or my pics will be few. Many of my companions are winding down for the night. It’s muggy and warm, however, the bugs haven’t been too bad thus far. Today was a good day. I met Misery and Funnybone and saw Tugboat for the first time since Harper’s Ferry. There’s also a good chance I’ll get to hike some more with these fine folks as I continue my northward walk on the Appalachian Trail.