Beast, Lea, and I had breakfast at the Big Meadows lodge. Beast and I then made some final adjustments to my insoles, and we drove back to the Lewis Mountain Campground to continue from where I left off.
Originally, Beast and I were unsure how far we were going to hike, since there were really no good destinations within our range. Someone (I forget who) had pointed out to me earlier in the day that given our late start time (after 10 am), we basically only had half a day. I pointed this out to Beast, and pointed out that since it was his first day back on the trail in a while with a full pack (and new insoles for me), it wouldn't be the worst idea to have a short day and only go as far as Big Meadows, which would put us in a position to be back on my planned schedule (though a day behind), and in a better position for getting to more reasonable stopping points then if we tried to push further today. He agreed.
So, we hiked the 9.2 miles from the Lewis Mountain Campground to the Big Meadows Campground, and picked out a campsite. Beast set up his tent while I went off to pay, and in the process, I found a couple of other options that were potentially more suitable (some even had bear boxes or bear poles, unlike the spaces in the RV camping section we were in), but we elected to stay where we were, since it was closer to the AT, and Beast already had his tent set up long before I got back.
We did a shared load of laundry while Beast got a shower. (I had just gotten one the other day, and didn't see the need to get one now, especially since I expected to get one at a hostel in two days). The woman working the store and managing the laundry and showers was pretty nice, and gave us free laundry detergent and a towel Beast could use.
After dropping our clean clothes back in our tents, we returned to the restaurant for dinner, walking awfully close to a deer grazing at the campground. At dinner, I splurged on a dessert, the "Signature Sundae", featuring their "signature" blackberry ice cream. It was actually pretty good.
After dinner, I sat down in the lounge while Beast called his dad. After awhile, a girl came up and struck up a conversation. She was Claire, from Connecticut, going to school in Roanoke, and was starting her summer internship as hostess at the restaurant in two days. She said she had never talked to a thru-hiker before, and that her brother is doing a SOBO hike starting at Katahdin on July 4, so it's entirely likely we might run into him sometime later.
The new insoles appear to be working pretty well, though they still need a bit more trimming; on downhills, my toes are getting a littl too bunched up, and just from the way that feels, I can clearly see how it could lead to broken toes in the right circumstances. Beast did fairly good as well, though he's especially struggling on the uphills since his endurance has decreased during the time he was off-trail. Soon, though, I'm sure, he'll be back to his old self again.
Since we had an 18 mile day planned tomorrow, to the Pass Mountain Hut, I suggested we leave around 7:30. If we actually managed to leave then, I think it'd be the earliest are actually managed to get going. We'll see how well that works out tomorrow…