Beast and I got up early (though certainly not motivated by the weather), cleared out of the hotel room, and borrowed one of his parents' cars to drive to the trailhead. His parents would later drive their other car over to the trailhead to pick it up, and his dad would meet us at the next road crossing to pick us up.
This was the first day of a few days of slackpacking, made possible by the generosity of Beasts's (extended) family. We're only hiking about 8 miles today, from one road crossing, up and down a mountain, to the next. This would allow me to test out my leg after a day of rest, and to allow Beast to test out one of the pairs of shoes he got, without unnecessary stressing either of us in the event of problems.
It wasn't a difficult hike up the mountain, though through fog, so there really wasn't much of a view. On our way up, we ran into Alpaca (I met his wife at the hostel a few days ago), who was planning to get off the trail for a few days because his shins were significantly hurting, and we offered him a ride into town if he could make it to the road before we had to leave.
We also passed an area that had a ton of spider webs on the ground, highlighted by the mist in the air.
Shortly after cresting the mountain, we took the side trail to the Audie Murphy monument for a short break. The monument was a simple stone with a polished edge and text engraving. It was surrounded by a larger pile of rocks people had carried up over the years, which were covered in small mementos, including dog tags and even bands from KIA soldiers.
On our way down the mountain, the fog finally lifted (which Beast only noticed when he realized he wasn't sweating as much as he expected), and we were actually able to see some scenery, a nice change of pace from the grey.
About a minute or so from the bottom, we realized that Beast’s dad was already there, waiting for us and giving out trail magic (water, apples, and bananas) to other hikers. Beast had deliberately not sent a spot message from the top to delay his arrival so as to give Alpaca more time to reach the road, but fortunately, we were able to wait until he got there.
We gave Alpaca a ride to a Burger King in town, adjacent to the Holiday Inn we originally went to yesterday, and then had lunch there.
Afterwards, we went to the home of Beast's relatives, Cynthia and Phillip, who are graciously putting us up for the next few nights. Beast's mom is staying here as well.
Our slackpacking run today gave us what we needed: my leg was much better, but would have had problems if we had gone much further. Beast discovered that the shoes he got were much better, but his foot slid too much on downhills; tomorrow's hike will use the other (half-size smaller) pair he got, and hopefully that will work out better.