Currently sitting at the picnic table...
The hostel last night had cable TV, and I noticed that the new episode of Breaking Bad would be airing at 3 AM. I set my alarm and went to sleep a little early. When I woke to that sound, though, I decided it would be in the best interest of my hike if I went back to sleep. I woke to my real alarm and reaped the benefits of staying in the hostel, drowsily making pancakes for myself in the wee hours of the morning. Even so, I was able to get hiking by 7:30 as I resumed my obstacle from yesterday: the Roller Coaster. This presented a unique challenge for me because I'm still nursing my tender shin and tendons. The downhills have all the danger. In general, the pain is negligible until I stub my toe in just the wrong way, in which case it'll stick around for a half hour or so. This happened a couple times during my ride on the Roller Coaster, but it was an otherwise uneventful trip. With all the climbing and descending, the section made for slow going. I stopped for lunch at Rod Hollow Shelter, where a cute section hiker named Otis was changing her socks that had been soaked by the morning dew on the low-lying plants. These days, it's a nice treat to find another person hanging out at a shelter. The northbounders have passed, and school is starting again. She was headed out, but we still chatted for a few minutes. I refilled my water bottles and glanced over the elevation profile before packing up as well. Before I left, I signed and read over the shelter log. A good number of people had made jokes about the name of the shelter. I couldn't wait to see what they had to say about Dicks Dome Shelter just nine miles down the trail.
The rest of the day went pretty quickly as the terrain flattened and I listened to an audio book. I passed in to Sky Meadows State Park, enjoying walking through open, hilly fields. The visitors center and associated vending machines were sadly located down a two-mile side trail, leaving me high and dry (in terms of soda). I contented myself to enjoy the scenery (boo!). Not that I minded; at the previous road crossing, I found a cooler with trail magic in the form of - you guessed it - Coca-Cola. At the very top of the cooler was a lone package of Reese's Cups, which I consumed with tears in my eyes. I packed out a soda for tonight. After leaving the state park, I caught up to an older man. I took out one ear bud to say hello and pass by, but he didn't yield. He started to talk, so I paused my audio book and joined in. He was complaining about how this section was overgrown, whacking bushes that were off the trail with his stick. I suppose we all have a different definition of "unmaintained". He told me he was only going as far as a spring up ahead, so I followed him, grinning and bearing. He ended up being a nice guy in spite of his small lapse in trail etiquette. On top of that, he told me about three breweries near the trail coming up. I decided that more than compensated for anything. We said goodbye and I was off to my home for the night: Manassas Gap Shelter.
I got in at a reasonable time, put my soda in the cold spring nearby to chill it, and planned out my resupply day in Front Royal tomorrow. These towns are getting too big. I have to choose which part of town to go into. Do I go to Taco Bell, which limits my resupply options to the 7-11 next door? Or do I resupply at Food Lion, limiting my dining options to Burger King? I suspect I may try hitching within town tomorrow. Life's rough in the big city.
Deer count: 5
Turkey count: 6