Hiked over 1,000 miles so far!

Excellent sleeping weather last night but either Fresh Breath or Freckles snored loudly. At 6:15am, I hiked the spur trail back to the AT and started uphill to Sky Meadows State Park. I actually walked through grassy meadows for a welcome change of scenery. The Appalachian Trail descended through a mixture of dense shrubs and mature forest to busy US Highway 50 at mile 5 on the day. After gaining elevation, the AT bounced up and down for 3 miles to the turnoff to the Rod Hollow shelter. From here, the Roller Coaster ran north. This Ill-conceived 13.5-mile stretch featured excessively steep ups and downs, often on rocks. This part of the AT ought to be an embarrassment to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. Plus the Afternoon sun beat down when the tree canopy disappeared (mercifully not often). After what seemed like an eternity, but was only 9 miles, I reached the side trail to the castle-like Bears Den hostel (see photo). A group of hikers gave me a soda and a cookie at the turnoff. At 3:45pm, I dropped pack on a shady lawn and lay down. Shortly, I revived a little, finding a copy of the Washington Post in a trash can. I read the paper at 5 pm when the hostel office opened. I paid for tenting, a shower, laundry, a pizza, and pint of Ben & Jerrys. A chap named Chris told me that his service group of teenagers would put on a hiker feed at 6 pm. What luck! At 6, I showed up and ate 2 burgers, one hot dog, three helpings of potato salad, three pieces of watermelon, and a Gatorade. Well-fed, I retired to my tent at 7 pm for journal writing. A perfect ending to a hard day. The hiker mileage meter turned over 1000 miles today. Today's miles - 18.3 Total miles - 1002 .6.

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