Day 73 on the Appalachian Trail

The mosquitoes come out last night in force, but I escaped them inside my bug-proof tent. My hiking day started with a short climb up Rattlesnake Mountain - no snakes - followed by a series of 100-vertical foot ups and downs. At mile 6.2, I crossed US Highway 220 and headed a block west to a deli. Alas, the deli had folded. No treat this morning. More ups and downs past tree oaks with an under story of scrub oaks and blueberries. The trail frequently crossed outcrops of bedrock flanked by scrub oaks (see photo). My next stop was for water at the Gren Anderson shelter. While I collected water from a spring 75 yards from the shelter, a black bear ambled by. I ate an early lunch at a covered pavilion at mile 11.6. Immediately after I left the shelter, I saw a sign for a new hostel near High Point State Park. It seemed attractive. The trail became increasingly rocky and took a toll on my feet. The day's heat also took a toll. Happily, the tree canopy kept me from getting totally cooked. At one point, the peripheral vision in my right eye detected the pattern - rattlesnake pattern. I jumped to the left and looked back to see. 4-foot long timber rattlesnake lying by the trail. The snake's midsection bulged reflecting a recent chipmunk meal. The lethargic snake barely moved. After saying goodbye to the snake, I enjoyed treats from two people along the trail. Dog tired, Trotter and I reached High Point State Park. She called Mosey for a pickup to the new shelter. We found more trail magic inside the state park headquarters building. Mosey arrived and whisked us to her home. It turned out that Chicken Feet (who arrived earlier), Trotter, and I, were the inaugural patrons of the hostel. A shower and laundry preceded a trip to the food store for dinner. Wonderful! Today's miles - 20.5. Total miles - 1335.7.

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