May 13, 2018
Destination: Deer Lick Shelters Today's Miles: 28.40
Start Location: Dahlgren Backpack Campground Trip Miles: 1070.40
It stormed most of the night, but when I woke up at 5am it had stopped raining. I decided to go ahead and get up and take advantage of the fact that it wasn’t pouring down to get ready to hike.
I had a quick breakfast of oatmeal in my tent, then broke everything down and organized my pack by the bathroom. It was nice to be able to wash my hands and throw my trash away there, not to mention get water! I said goodbye to the gang who were still in various stages of assembly. As I walked out, I saw Poncho hike towards the bathroom in his underwear. I met Poncho once in the Shenandoahs. He’s a really nice guy. I guess he is going ultralight or something, but he hikes in boxer briefs. He’ll put on pants if he goes into a town. Everyone has his style!
I hiked out of camp with a good solid pace. I knew the others were going to target a shelter about 18 miles away. I figured I would go there and then see how I felt, but in the back of my mind I was entertaining the idea of having a bigger day and going farther. As I walked along the fog was thick. I passed through the park where the George Washington Monument is. Unlike the one in DC, this one is like a smaller cylindrical stone feature. It was very foggy, but I snapped a picture before moving on. On the trail up to the monument there were signs noting milestones in Washington’s life. I enjoyed reading them as I walked.
After the monument, it started raining again. I hiked faster to stay warm. I haven’t been wearing my rain jacket much. It’s warm enough now to where I’m largely ok just getting wet. I could put on rain gear but then I sweat, and if I’m going to get wet I might as well not have salt deposits on my body. Unfortunately, the rain and fog obscured all of my views today. I still took the side trails just for kicks, but at Annapolis Rocks, for example, I saw nothing but white. I saw a few deer and a lot of hikers though. Some of them were section hikers and others were starting flip flops.
Overall the day was just a solid day of hiking. At some point the Forrest Gump effect kicked in and my legs just kept going and going! I took some breaks and stopped at a shelter for lunch. The rain took a break for a while but then showed up later in the evening again. At Penn Mar picnic area I passed Happy Feet. I don’t know where she camped on the trail the night before when we were at Dahlgren, but the trail is funny like that - we often leapfrog each other. Not too long after that I crossed over the Mason Dixon line. I was in Pennsylvania! It was a cool feeling to get to a new state so quickly. I’d been in 4 states over the last week!
When I got to Deer Lick Shelters I realized there were actually two small shelters there. There were four people there: flip floppers and section hikers. They were really nice and I talked with the two flip floppers for a while while I cooked my dinner. Right before I finished dinner, Happy Feet showed up. She opted for the shelter. There was room in the shelter, but I decided to tent. My tent was a bit wet from last night, but I used one of my socks to wipe down the inside. I had somehow walked just over 28 miles, and I definitely could feel that. It was all I could do not to fall asleep sitting up. I was grateful for the strength to walk today, and for some solitude with the woods while hiking. I was also grateful for the rain that cooled things down. It was a good long day.