Thursday, June 9, 2016 11:13 pm
Location: Bears Den Hostel (1002.6 miles)

Although I wanted to leave at 7 am today, and the "compromise" time that was agreed upon was 8 am, we didn't actually wind up leaving until closer to 8:30 (due to another laundry mishap on part of the other hiker taking the shuttle; it turns out that lightweight hiker clothes don't dry very quickly when there are towels in the dryer). This meant I wouldn't get started on my 21 mile hike to Bears Den Hostel until almost 9 am.

Before we left, I thought of Henry's troubles yesterday, and his returning back down the trail for items he lost, and offered him the trail name "Zig Zag". (My previous naming attempt for Machine, who later changed to Duracell, didn't stick, so I wasn't holding too high hopes for this one, but I thought the name was better matched to the situation, so I guess we'll see.)

The day started out with some easy terrain, picking up where I started yesterday, and I managed to average 3.25 mph over the first two and a quarter hours. The early part of the day went through Sky Meadows State Park, which as the name suggests, has relatively high-elevation meadows and views of the lowlands in the distance.

Sky Meadows
Sky Meadows

That easy terrain wouldn't last, though. The latter half of the trail for me today was 10 of the 13.5 miles of the "Roller Coaster", a series of tightly packed ascents and descents. ("This ride wasn't very amusing. I want my money back.") To make matters worse, it was mostly a rocky mess. This wasn't too bad on the uphills, but it made the downhills slower and more painful than they otherwise had to be. This was a very disagreeable section of trail, and the sign at its entrance almost seemed to take extra glee in the upcoming pain that would be inflicted on my feet.

The Roller Coaster
The Roller Coaster13.5 miles of ascents and descents. More frustrating than difficult.

The only consolation from dealing with this obnoxious section of trail was reaching the 1000 mile marker. I stopped briefly for a picture, then continued the push to the first-come-first-serve Bears Den Hostel. I finally made it there around 6:45, and while there were still beds available, only top bunks were free.

1000 Miles!
1000 Miles!

I think I may actually have consumed over 6000 calories today. Besides my normal breakfast and snacks (supplemented with bottles of Dr Pepper), dinner tonight consisted of a whole pizza and a pint of ice cream (each over 1300 calories), and two cans soda. That's good, since I'll need the extra calories for the push to Harpers Ferry tomorrow.