Momma Mouse

May 4, 2018

Destination: Stealth Campsite at mile 911.1 Today's Miles: 18.80

Start Location: Stealth Campsite at Mile 892.3 Trip Miles: 911.10

Momma mouse at Pinefield Hut, Shenandoahs
I woke up to a beautiful sunrise this morning and a comfortable breeze blowing through camp. I woke at 5:30 and started getting my stuff organized.

Tarzan, Happy Feet, and Whitewater also were stirring. We had our breakfasts and Happy Feet left first (she eats on the go), then Whitewater, and the Tarzan and I had our usual race to be last out of camp. He won.

I hiked out of camp at about 7:20 after my usual breakfast and coffee. I was on high alert for wildlife. It was overcast and a little cooler this morning, so the temperature was quite comfortable. I was hoping the bears might feel the same way and come out to play! After a mile and change, I stopped to filter water at a beautiful creek. 

When I reached Pinefield Hut, Tarzan (who had passed me at the watering hole) was there and Whitewater soon followed. We all had a snack there before continuing our trek. We climbed Weaver Mountain and then passed the 900 mile mark for the trail! I totally forgot to look for a marker - usually another thru hiker will create some kind of marker out of sticks or rocks. I climbed up High Top Mountain and before reaching the summit, stopped at High Top Hut. The sun had come out and the blistering heat was back. I think it was supposed to get up to 86 degrees today. Happy Feet and Bones were at the shelter. I ran down to get water from the spring after setting my pack down. I was sooooo hot and disgusting, with sweat salt rings on my clothes. I took a little bird bath at the spring, and then decided to rinse out my shirt, so took that off and cleaned it up in the stream. I went back up to the shelter and placed my wet shirt in the sun to dry. I took my shoes and socks off, drank a bunch of water and set about eating lunch. Tarzan rolled in and then Whitewater, as Bones marched north. Some day hikers stopped in to chat. We all sat there for a while just cooling off. While I was sitting there, I heard a noise next to me, and suddenly a mouse poked its head up from the base of the shelter floor. I grabbed my food bag as I thought maybe it was going for my food quite boldly, but then something interesting happened. The mouse poked its head back up, darted upwards into a wall crack, and then reappeared with a tiny fur ball in its mouth - a baby mouse! She then quickly carried the baby across the floor to a new location somewhere in a crack in the foundation. She went back and did this three or four times, relocating her babies right in front of us. Mice are a real pain at the shelters, but this was the cutest thing!

After this we headed out and climbed the rest of the way up High Top Mountain. I saw one of the day hikers again and she told me she had just seen a rattlesnake coiled up and sunning itself on a rock just off the east side of the trail. I looked for it on the way up but did not see it. 

The heat and sun were pretty brutal, and at the next Gap when I caught up to Happy Feet and Whitewater, they suggested stopping short of our original plan for roughly 25 miles. I was all for it and was already feeling drained by the heat. We decided we would walk to the next water source and then find a place to stealth camp. On the way out of the gap we found trail magic on a tree - bags of skittles!  It was pretty cool to find candy as I rarely carry it - I always go for chocolate. The next climb finished me off. I was happy to get to the spring we were looking for. We ended up camping on the old dirt road leading down to the spring. It’s definitely not the prettiest stealth campsite I’ve had, but the four of us were tired and wanted to camp by water.

No bears today, but I did see some deer. In fact, as the four of us were sitting cooking dinner, a deer walked right down near camp! It was pretty awesome! Today I had a lot of laughs with my fellow cohorts. I was grateful for that, for the views today, and that we got through cooking dinner before the rain came. As I lay in my tent, the rain is falling softly outside, pitter patter, pitter patter. Tomorrow is supposed to be wet, but the rain should cool things off some.

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