Location: Unknown Shelter
Morning came too quickly in the hotel room. I wished that I had hours on end to waste in that room which had everything I needed and wanted. However, the trail calls. I woke up around 8:00am and ate a quick breakfast after putting my clothes in the wash. Before I knew it, check-out time had come. I left the hotel at 11:00 and retrieved my mail drop from the Daleville post office. I was excited to find new warm clothes for the cooler days ahead. Some nights recently have been frigid to say the least and I only had my summer clothes to ward off the cold. Of course, though, my winter hiking clothes arrive on the day that the temperatures rise into the 70’s.
After the post office, I went to Kroger to grab some candy bars and a Gatorade. As I neared the front door to the grocery store, I spotted Druid’s pack on the sidewalk. He always leaves his pack outside the store while shopping, something I will not do. I put my pack in the shopping cart and wheel it around the aisles. I was excited to see that I had caught Druid. The last I knew of him he was two days ahead of me, but with my 32 miles day and the zero that he took in Daleville, I made up the distance on him. He told me that he had stayed at the same hotel that I had stayed at last night with the Bear Mafia. I haven’t seen the members of the Bear Mafia since Monson, ME, when I shared the bunkroom at Shaw’s boarding house with them.
Druid left town just before I did. I was compelled to stop for lunch at Bojangle’s. I hadn’t seen a Bo’s on the trail yet. I ordered my usual meal, Cajun filet biscuit combo with fries and a sweet tea. The meal cost the same as it did at home before I left for the trail, six dollars and twenty cents. It was worth a hundred to me.
The nine miles to the first shelter south of town nearly killed me, probably because I hiked 32 miles yesterday. Druid is surprised that I could even hike after my long day yesterday. I would’ve liked to take a day off, but I’m too afraid to some moving Virginia because the state is so long. I’m afraid that if I slow down, I might get bogged down emotionally by considering how much further I must hike in Virginia. Therefore I keep moving.
On my way to the shelter, I had a scary experience with a snake. As I climbed a rocky hill in the hot afternoon, I walked upon what I originally thought to be a black hose stretched across the trail. I don’t know if the snake moved and then I realized it, or if my scream and jump after seeing that is was a snake caused it to move. Whichever was the case, the encounter occurred in an instant. I leapt backwards as the snake struck with its head at one of my trekking poles and then recoiled into an S posture. The snake left the trail slowly and I proceeded quickly with my heart beating a little faster than usual.
I met the Bear Mafia at the shelter. Dr. Rudder, Cats, Dorothy, and Jimmy Legs. They all looked as I remember them. It’s hard to believe that the four of them have hiked all of this way together. It’s impressive that they have all made it this far. We caught up on each other’s experiences as we exchanged stories around the fire. They said that they had wondered if I was still behind them and that recently they discovered that Mark Kelley had become Wayward. I was excited to see them once again. They were once two weeks ahead of me, now not even a day.