Today started off with a terrific all-you-can-eat buffet at the B&B, and fully charged, we headed out for a planned 18.4 mile day to the Moreland Gap Shelter. Shortly after returning to the trail from the hostel, a ”Bigfoot Sanctuary” sign greeted us with some amusement.
After a couple of steep initial hills, the day was largely lots of little ups and downs as the trail wound itself east, then west in an amazingly circuitous path. I commented to Beast earlier that, today, even the switchbacks have switchbacks.
Much of the early part of the day featured grassy hills, before the trail reverted to the forest. Just after the Mountaineer Shelter, a bit of prior trail maintenance was visible, in the form of the AT logo cut into a fallen tree stump.
After a few miles, coming up to a road, I saw a church steeple, and what looked like a pavilion tent. Could it be trail magic? Yes, it was! There was trail magic at a Baptist church. Only, it didn't actually have anything to do with the church; a thru-hiker's (Hip Belt) girlfriend's mom was there with her RV, giving out some water and fruit. (Thanks, "Trail Mom" Ruth!)
Mid-afternoon brought us "The Bench", a memorial bench carted up by a local hostel, which featured a great overlook of the woods.
The weather forecast for the day called for thunderstorms starting in the afternoon, but save for a very light drizzle we got around 4, it was sunny with partially cloudy skies most of the day.
The promised thunderstorm showed up around 7, as Beast and I were making dinner. Beast was able to retreat to his tent, as he was just waiting for his dehydrated dinner to rehydrate. I, however, was starting on my Ramen course when the rain started.
The Moreland Gap shelter is small, and not well shielded from storms coming from the northwest (as this one did), so the shelter's overhang did nothing to protect the picnic table, even after we moved the table further under the shelter's roof (a process complicated by the packs hanging from the mouse hooks).
Sassy donated her hammock's rain fly to the cause, stringing it up over half of the shelter to help keep the rain out, and it worked wonderfully; with my dinner finished cooking, I could eat it inside the shelter without getting further wet.
Afterwards, I raced to my tent, to write this, watch a (several weeks old) episode of Agents of Shield I downloaded, and hopefully doze off early.
Tomorrow: the first day of a somewhat complicated two-day slackpacking scheme via the Black Bear hostel.