Tuesday, May 10, 2016 8:30 pm
Location: Laurel Creek Campsites (583.0 miles)

One of the downsides to shelters is the the noise other people make. While other people snoring hasn't been too much of a problem for me so far, I was constantly awoken by the air mattress of the hiker sleeping next to me. His mattress made noise every time he moved, and he moved a lot. At one point, I couldn't tell if the noise was rain, or his mattress, it was so loud. As a result, I started off the day later (8 am) and with less sleep than I had intended. Not really what I needed on a day I'm attempting 24 miles.

The trail this morning started off with an easy but steep downhill, and then back up the next mountain over as the trail continued to follow the ridgeline it started following yesterday. For the most part, the trail was nice and smooth, though in a few areas, there were rocks to deal with.

Being up on the ridgeline provided cell service, and I left my phone off of airplane mode most of the day hoping to hear from Beast.

After crossing a road, a sign for the National Forest Wilderness admonished that the trail was "Closed to motor vehicles, motorized equipment, hang gliders, and bicycles".

I had no idea hang gliders were so problematic.

About five miles in, as I was on my first break, I heard from Beast, who was on the move and trying to catch up with me. Considering the long day I had planned, I considered this to be highly unlikely, but I told him where I was and where I was planning on going.

I lost cell service as the ridgeline gave way to a downhill, and the trail made its way down another steep but easy hill to the Jenkins Shelter (which, naturally, has been graffitied on its nameplate to read Leerooy Jenkins).

At the shelter, I had a larger lunch than usual (I added a whey bar with 360 calories and 20 grams of protein to my usual mix of a Clif bar and Snickers), and then took a 20 minute nap.

Initially feeling somewhat refreshed after the nap, I got moving for the next leg of my hike, but was feeling a bit off; I suspect the whey bar was the wrong thing to have in the middle of the day. (I drank way more water on the uphill from the shelter than I would have normally expected.)

After I got back up on the ridgeline, cell service resumed, and Beast said he was going to attempt to make it to the Laurel Creek campsites today. Because of my late start and sluggish after-lunch, I decided that I was going to stop there, for a 15.1 mile day.

The last segment of trail to the campsites was wonderful, a gentle downhill with a wide trail. It could easily have been a nature trail in any local park. The day finally concluded with the trail running across a footbridge over a wide and fast moving creek, before crossing a road back into the woods, with a large campsite area. (By the time I went into my tent to write this, there were at least 26 tents, and I think at least one or two more people arrived after that.)

Unfortunately, Beast did not make it here. Word is he's staying at the Jenkins shelter tonight.

While the shorter day did not deplete my snack supply as heavily as anticipated, I'm still down a breakfast and dinner, so I have to resupply either tomorrow or the day after. Where I am makes this somewhat more inconvenient than I intended. At this point, probably the best thing to do would be to try and get back to the original plan and push 25 miles to our intended resupply and camping spot tomorrow. So, this time, I'm actually going to sleep early, and will try and be gone at 7.

If you're one of the several people who has expressed interest in hiking with me in Shenandoah, the park is 280 miles ahead, and about 100 miles long. This means I should probably get there in roughly 20 days, and it will probably take about a week to hike through the park.