Saturday, June 4, 2016 10:30 pm
Location: Lewis Mountain Campground / Big Meadows Cabin (915 miles)

As I mentioned yesterday, the tentsite I had to work with was pretty rocky. As a result, I didn't sleep very well.

After waking up, though, I was quickly distracted by a new problem: millipedes. There were millipedes all over my pack, and inside every open pocket and compartment.

At least millipedes aren't as sticky and gross as slugs.

I also lost two or three feet of rope when my bear line knotted itself to the tree branch it was hanging over, when I pulled it down without really paying attention.

Really not an auspicious start for the day. At least there was a view to start with.

View from Hightop Mountain
View from Hightop Mountain

With a 21 mile day planned to the Big Meadows Campsite, and especially because I was lacking insoles, I decided to keep weight down early in the day and not get more water until later in the day. However, about six miles in, was the South River Picnic Area, which has water fountains. So this seemed an excellent place for a first break and water refill, especially since it meant I didn't have to filter water.

Distracted by something, and the family coming down the trail to the picnic area, I missed the turn to the picnic area. I didn't realize it until I got to the next signage post, which was for a fire road. Taking the fire road up to Skyline Drive and walking back to the picnic area looked like it'd be shorter and more direct than walking back on the trail, so that's what I did.

I dried out my shirt, shoes, socks, and feet, refilled my water, used the restroom (can someone spare the park a lightbulb?), threw out my trash (yay, marginally lighter pack!), and returned to the trail the way I came.

On my way out of the picnic area, I had to stop briefly when a bear decided to cross the road. It was already halfway across; it stopped, briefly looked at me, and then resumed, disappearing into the woods to continue doing bear things.

Although my feet had recovered a bit during the break, hiking without insoles really hurt, as every rock and root was transmitted to my feet with less padding than usual. While on my break at the day's planned halfway point at the Lewis Mountain Campsite, I decided I had to stop there; going further just wouldn't be good for my feet. I paid $15 for campsite #8, and set up my tent.

Lacking cell service, the very chatty manager on duty at the campstore, Randy, let me borrow the store's phone twice to call Beast and leave him a message informing him that I'd be stopping here for the day.

In the meantime, while waiting for Beast to arrive here with new insoles (as was the original plan), I got a shower (my first in longer than I can remember), and did laundry. Once that was all done, I felt much better, and hung out on the campstore's porch with other hikers, eating a (surprisingly good) microwaveable burger, and then a downsized pint (14 oz) of ice cream.

Around 6 pm, just as I was about to go off to dinner with a group of hikers with access to a car, Beast and his sister Lea arrived. In a hurry, we tore down my tent, stuffed it and my gear in her car's trunk, and took off for Big Meadows (my intended destination for the day), where (due to reasons I'm not going to go into) Lea decided she needed to stay (rather than driving back home that night), and gifted us the floor of the cabin she rented for the night. The restaurant here was a nice step up (in quality and cost) from the campstore's offerings, but it was worth it.

Our bellies full, we returned to our cabin, now filled with our gear, and I repacked my pack and set to work on my most important task of the day: cut the new insoles Beast brought to fit my shoes.

Back in Marion, over a month ago, when Beast and I were resupplying at Walmart, I suggested he look for insoles, since the kind he liked were becoming hard to find. (We later found out that Walmart was discontinuing that item.) As luck would have it, there were two pairs. He picked up the first, and I suggested he get the second, so he'd have the extra pair, just in case.

That extra pair is what I now have in my shoes.

Aftermarket insoles are intended to be cut into shape to fit the particular shoe they're going in. Normally, one has a template (the shoe's original insole) to act as a starting point. Lacking the original insoles, and with replacements that were much thicker, cutting them down proved to be an irritating repetitive task of cut-insert-try. After an hour of this, Beast took pity on me and did a much faster job whittling them down, based on his own experience, but the hour grew late, and I was falling asleep, and they still didn't fit right (and this was important, since we didn't want to break my toes like Beast broke his). So we just put them aside for tomorrow, which hopefully, will be a much better day.