Day 71 (15 miles)

It was great waking up in a cool, old cabin. Yes, I took another shower because I could! Breakfast was nice in the main house and hearing of its history was fascinating. Asia kept hitting her snooze button, glad I was awake. If she intends on rowing with the big teams she will have to get up the first time it goes off. She graduated from the University of Tennessee and rowed for them. I am either getting used to the humidity or else it wasn’t as bad as I climbed to 3300 feet. The trail was pretty good today, nice and wide, but good grief, I didn’t know there was a paint shortage in VA!

The blazes were almost nonexistent and when I came to where 3 trails joined, I was clueless. Turns out there is a half inch wide metal band around a concrete pole at the intersection with words stamped on it… like I could read that! I swore I wasn’t going to check my Gut Hooks App so much today but I had to several times to be sure I was going the right way! I stopped at Tom Floyd Shelter for an early lunch. It was kind of junky with a bunch of fallen trees and larger rocks laying around. I made good time, I thought, but not what I would like. My feet are hurting today from maneuvering over the rocks going up and down causing them to bend so differently than before. I passed several people out for a week hike not stopping for conversation. Like I said, the trail was pretty good except for the rocks.

In the afternoon I surrounded by 5 to 6 foot tall beautiful fields of flowers, little yellow and orange ones from the same family, large golden ones, and tiny white ones. They were as if to say “ Welcome, My Lady, Enjoy”. There were quite a few flies, horseflies, and hornets about today but as soon as I lit out I used my head net. Why I didn’t use it before I will never know. I think it helped in making my time a little better as I didn’t have to stop to swat bugs, pull spider webs off my face, or get gnats out of my eyes which they seem to like to do. A couple of people wished they had one too.

As I topped North Marshal Mountain I finally got a view! It wasn’t long before I turned into Gravel Springs Hut, the guide says it’s .2 off the trail but I beg to differ! Now to walk back out..ouch! As I passed Marshall Mountain I noticed a couple kids ahead talking loudly and hoping they were going to the same shelter as long as they were nice. Well, when I arrived I found 10 young kids, all beginning freshmen except for three upper class men who have brought them out here for a couple days for a pre orientation for Georgetown. Some were from Jersey and one from DC, some from Chicago, and JJ from Boston. He is a Junior and very polite. He asked my advice at times and invited me to where they cooked away from the hut while I ate.

The three were teaching them to use the stoves and how best to cook the food they brought, working in groups of 3. It’s getting late hiker time and they haven’t gotten their beds ready, they are talking about their plans and stories; I wish I could hear them. Hopefully they will come up soon because my body is pooped and I may need to scoot over to make room for us all. They didn’t mind making room for me, again a nice group of kids! I am going to stretch my muscles and lay down while I wait for them, oh wait, here they come so Good Night and Sweet Dreams!

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