Day 50 on the Appalachian Trail

After I fell asleep, a day hiker appeared at the shelter and visited with fellow thru-hiker Even Keel. In the morning, Even Keel told me that the hiker was separated from his mother and sister. The hiker left, but returned in the night disoriented as to his whereabouts. He left again. I wonder what happened to him and his family members. I started hiking at 6am, heading uphill for a 400-foot climb, after which I dropped down for 2 miles to Swift Run Gap. This part of Shenandoah National Park exhibited the hallmarks of past disturbance in the form of farming and grazing. Few big trees and lots of weedy shrubs and herbs. From Swift Run Gap, I gained 600 feet of elevation slowly, thus sparing my legs from a bruising. After a short drop, I headed uphill to Baldface Mountain, again on a trail with reasonable grade. Thereafter for 7 miles, the Appalachian Trail went up and down moderately. I ate lunch at the Lewis Mountain Campground with two section hikers, one of whom had painful blisters. After a few small bumps, the AT gained 600 feet to Hazeltop then descended gradually toward Big Meadows Campground, my destination for the night. On the way, I passed by many flowering blackberry plants (see photo). I've seen their white flowers all along the AT. After a brief stop at the wayside for a pint of chocolate milk and a bag of chips (1200 calories), I walked through a brief shower to the campground. Fellow hiker CK agreed to share a camp spot. He left me a note to go to site E181. The rain stopped and I set up my tent then headed for the shower house. Today was pretty easy due to the lack of steep climbs and descents. Today's miles 20.8. Total miles - 924.2.

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