Location: Unknown Shelter
I woke well rested this morning at the Blackburn Center. Not much light came into the shelter, so I’m glad that I set my alarm last night. I woke up before Not Bad and I ate breakfast before he acknowledged that I was awake by rolling over in his sleeping bag. I knew that he had been awake since my alarm rang. As I packed, he stayed in his sleeping bag. He told me to go ahead and leave and that he would be right behind me. He looked terrible this morning, so terrible that I felt guilty for being so well. He has been complaining the last couple of days about his stomach. Ever since the half gallon challenge his stomach has been hurting. Now fatigue accompanies his discomfort.
I reached Snickers Gap by lunch. I decided to go to a village market a mile from the trail to get batteries and Imodium for Not Bad who I figured would be close behind me. Of course I got lost while trying to get to the store. I took the wrong street but in the right direction, so I cut through a neighborhood to get to the market. I only added about a mile to the day.
As I walked into the parking lot, I realized that the market was closed. It looked as though it had been shut down in a hurry. I pressed my face against the glass to see the inside of the store. It looked as though the owner had walked out of the store one afternoon and decided not to return. The shelves were still stocked with candies, snacks, and motor oil. On the checkout counter, there were uncapped pens and markers on forms partially filled out. The cash register had a long tail of receipt tape with lists of blue numbers. I looked at the five stacks of different newspapers at the base of the window. They were yellow, and their dates all read August 15. I picked up my pack from the rocking chair on the front porch and left the eerie scene.
On my way out of the decrepit town of Pine Grove, I decided to eat at the Horseshoe Curve restaurant. I left my pack by the door and walked into the bar/restaurant. A single woman, old but young looking, sat reading a newspaper at the bar. Two dogs, hairy and shedding, sat on the floor at her feet, watching me as I took a seat by the window in the empty restaurant. I ordered some fried food, only to find out that the fryer wouldn’t be ready for another twenty minutes. I decided to wait although I had already wasted plenty of time. The food was worth the wait.
I returned to the trail and then left almost immediately after returning when I came to the Bears Den Hostel. I needed water and water is hard to find on the ridgeline. I took a side trail to the hostel, operated by the Potomac ATC. I found much more than a spigot. I checked my E-mail and made free long distance calls. I also bought batteries and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s in the store at the hostel, both of which I had planned to buy at the village market a mile off the trail. As I sat at the computer, Not Bad arrived at the hostel. Although he had only left the shelter an hour after I did, he had fallen three hours behind. He looked sick, and immediately I knew he would not be leaving the hostel today, no even if he went to the doctor this afternoon and was told he would be fine in a few days. Not Bad thinks that he may have a touch of Giardisis. I don’t completely disagree. He never treats his water, so I’m sure he has some waterborne virus, hopefully not Giardia.
After some visiting, we decided that I would leave. I couldn’t do anything to help him, so I moved to the next shelter to the south. I felt bad for leaving him behind, but this trail is difficult when I only must take care of myself. I must keep moving, for perhaps there will be a sickness or an injury that will slow me down significantly. If it happens, I won’t expect anyone else to wait for me. Although south-bounders don’t have an official deadline like the NOBOs, we must finish before the heavy snows of winter.
At the shelter tonight, I met three older men from Ohio hiking for a few days. They had built a huge bonfire by the time I arrived at 6:45pm. The air temperature was still in the seventies. I didn’t join the men huddled around the fire with stogies and cocktails. I wasn’t invited. Instead I went to bed early to work on my journal and listen to the Yankees-Tigers playoff game.