Trail Zealot

Colorado hiking, Appalachian Trail thru-hiking, and more...

Day 73: Big Meadows Lodge to High Mountain Hut

Appalachian Trail
August 24, 2013
Mileage20.4 (1286.5) mi
Elevation gain4559 ft
Elevation loss5010 ft

Currently sitting at the picnic table...

After turning in late last night, I relished the opportunity to sleep in this morning. I knew my hike wouldn't require a full day, so I was in no rush. I was still the second person to breakfast, where I got the Hiker's Special. Har har har. But seriously. I made coffee in my room instead of paying $2.50 for what I'm pretty sure was the same thing in the lodge, uploaded my blog entry from last night, and was on my merry way by the lazy hour of nine. It was a beautiful, clear morning, a 180 degree turn from yesterday. I welcomed the change. As I turned the corner onto the trail, I waved to a couple walking with their small dog. Something I've loved about Shenandoah is the number of people I bump into. Southbounding is a lonely journey sometimes, but Shenandoah on a late summer weekend doesn't fit that description. What Shenandoah is, however, is full of bears. I saw a mother with three cubs right off the bat! The walking was ridiculously easy again, so I took a moment to sign the shelter log at Bearfence Mountain Hut. I flipped through the older entries and didn't notice anyone I knew. Afterwards, I had planned to get a snack at the Lewis Mountain Campground Store. I wandered around the campground asking people if they knew where the camp store was, but they all turned out to be foreign and thus very confused. They tended to direct me five miles down Skyline Drive, which was a less than ideal solution. I ate a Clif Bar instead and headed on.

After another few miles, I stopped at a picnic area to eat the food I had brought myself. Still feeling hungry and with time to kill, I decided I would try my luck at hitching into Elkton at the next road crossing. In the meantime, I hiked while listening to the Lion King soundtrack. Intensely motivational. I came to the road in no time and decided it looked good for a hitch. A few minutes of sticking my thumb out yielded no cars heading in my direction, but then I heard a horn honk from behind me. A couple waved to me and motioned me over. I almost ran in front of a car, but I made it and got to Elkton. The town worked well for what I needed: gas line antifreeze and Subway. I also tossed a few honey buns in my pack for good measure. I walked back to the big highway to hitch, spending about five minutes with no luck again. I saw a car drive by in the other direction, honking and waving. I assumed this was just a show of support, and I appreciated it a lot better than a simple drive-by. What I didn't realize was that the car was coming back around to get me. It was the couple I saw while starting out today! They had apparently passed me going my direction, doubled back, and turned around again to come get me. That's trail magic! All I had left after that was about 3.5 miles before the hut. I expected it to be swarmed on a weekend day, but I have it to myself again! This is why I seek out alternative lodging! Maybe I will get some late-arriving friends, or maybe a bear will snuggle with me. Either way, at least I can be happy knowing that these shorter days are giving my shin a chance to heal. But be warned: the Rooster will fly again one of these days.

Interactive map and elevation profile

All photos