May 11, 2013
Today’s mileage: 20.8
Total mileage: 755.5
We were the last ones to leave camp this morning as usual. We started later than we wanted to since we we had to filter our water this morning. Normally, we do that at night since it does take a bit of time, but because of the rain last night, we stayed in our tent all night and got lazy. Oh well. We get there when we get there. The good news is that there is plenty of daylight late into the day. As I began hiking, it started to rain. I swear this happens to me all the time. It’s like the AT gods are trying to pester me. I threw on my raincoat and not ten minutes later, the rain stopped. It was very humid today, so I think I actually ended up getting more wet from sweat from wearing my raincoat than if I hadn’t. It rained on and off throughout the day, but it never lasted for more than a few minutes at a time.
We crossed over the Blue Ridge Parkway four times today. We will cross it more in the coming days as well. I would forget we were hiking near a road and then all of a sudden, I would hear a car go by. It’s not like we don’t cross roads, we actually cross many along the way. But the trail ran along the parkway, so it was a different experience for us. We should get used to it though, because we will be crossing Skyline Drive in the Shenandoahs a lot.
The bugs were awful today. The flies just wouldn’t leave us alone. The fact that we were sweating profusely probably didn’t help much. One even flew right into my throat. I choked for a moment, tried to cough it up, and then realized I had to swallow it. Miles said it was some extra protein for me. I said it was just plain gross.
During our second break today, we met Blast and his golden retriever, Copper. Copper was super friendly just like all goldens. He sure was tired from hiking. When we arrived, he was napping in the back of the shelter. He reminded me of my dogs Manny and Stella, who are also golden retrievers, although I think Copper was a little more well-behaved than my dogs. 🙂
We have met a lot of section hikers in Virginia. I imagine that it’s one of the most popular states for section hiking. We met Beeman, who lives in Nevis, is from England, but is of Scottish descent. He noted that my last name, Gordon, is very Scottish. Hey, we’ve even got our own tartan! Unfortunately, my genealogy research last year came up with no answers regarding my Scottish ancestry, so I didn’t have much info for him on that. Scotland is actually the next place that I really want to travel to, so he gave me a lot of great suggestions as to where to go. A funny story he told me that I thought I’d share regarding World War II. When the men from the Shetland Islands north of Scotland were called up to serve during the war, they were asked to write down where the nearest train station was so that they could receive their train tickets that would take them to their base. All of the men wrote down a train station in Norway since that was the closest station, although at the time, Norway was occupied by Germany!
We finished out our day with a climb up Fork Mountain, a fairly steep climb. We were sweating a ton, but we pushed on to the amazing Bryant Ridge Shelter and arrived around 6:30. It’s a 20-person shelter with two stories and a porch area. There are only two other people here, so we have the entire second floor to ourselves. This is by far my favorite shelter. Better than the Fontana Hilton and Partnership, even though those two had running water. The shelter is very well-designed and there is great utilization of space here. Seating under the roof, lots of hooks, windows, and excellent ventilation. Can you tell I’m an architect’s daughter?!
Although our feet hurt some after hiking, mine didn’t hurt nearly as bad as I thought they would. It seems strange, but our 20+ mile day seemed normal. Who would have thought that hiking that far would feel normal? With my blisters healed and a pair of good shoes, it’s amazing how much of a difference the combination can make. The inside of my left ankle did hurt again today, but I took Advil tonight and hoping it improves in the coming days. Like I said before, I’ve accepted the fact that something will hurt everyday, it’s just a matter of handling each pain as it comes.
It’s a beautiful, warm night here. It feels like a summer night in Maine for us. I’m sleeping in shorts and a t-shirt, which is a huge change even from a few weeks ago. The sound of the stream will put me to sleep tonight. All of those days of rain really make you appreciate beautiful nights like this one.