Day 59 on the Appalachian Trail

Light rain fell in the night, but was gone when I awoke at 5:30am. After breakfast, I headed uphill for an 800-foot climb. Half an hour later, the rain returned, this time hard. I donned my poncho and put my new pack cover in place. Both performed well. At 4 miles on the day, I added by the Deer Lick shelters (side by side) as the rain ceased. The Appalachian Trail gained 200 feet of elevation then descended gradually through young forest (few big, old trees) to Antietam shelter and the Old Forge picnic area. I took a bathroom, water, and snack break. After my test, I started a 1000-foot climb. The trail grade was mostly reasonable for 4 miles. A few mountain laurel shrubs sported fading white flowers. At the turnoff to the Rocky Mountain shelter, the AT ran along a rocky ridge. Footing was often terrible on slanted, wet slippery, lichen-covered rocks. Why any sensible person would route a trail through such a mess escaped me. Some wag painted fake white AT blazes on trees away from the rocky trail. At length, the trail dropped down (very steeply) to more level and less rocky ground and a decent trail. At 2 pm, I arrived at US Highway 30 as cars whizzed by. After 10 minutes, I got a ride to the Trail of Hope hostel, 0.8 miles west. Pastor Sandy and Junker welcomed me just as a ferocious thunder storm hit. What timing! Was I ever grateful to be inside the hostel (see photo). I could have been standing in the rain hitching. Junker took fellow hiker Slam to town to buy shoes, while I took a shower. When Junker returned, he lent me his car to drive 2 miles to Dollar General to resupply, including half a gallon of chocolate milk and a pint of ice cream. I wrote in my journal and cooked dinner. I am grateful to be here this evening. More thunderstorms predicted for tonight. Today's miles - 17.3. Total miles - 1081.9.

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