I got a late start this morning, around 9, mostly because I stayed up later than I expected talking with Slider and other hikers. In a first for me on the AT, I saw a raccoon on the trail as I was leaving the campground.
Today's first stop was at the Washington Monument State Park in Boonsboro, MD. The park holds the first monument dedicated to George Washington, and there's a nice view of the surrounding area from the top.
The trail crossed over I-70, via a footbridge. I’ve driven under this bridge many times before; now, it’s great to hike across it. Just further ahead, where the trail crosses under a bridge for US-40, the bridge support was spray painted with “Bad Wolf” by a Doctor Who fan.
I stopped for a snack at the Pine Knob Shelter, and made an entry in the shelter log about how the trail in Maryland had been very nice so far. Generally, at least up to that point, the trail has been wide and easy to walk on. After my lunch break five miles later, though, the trail became significantly rockier, with some rock fields for a short while.
Normally, after a resupply, the pack gets a few pounds lighter each day, making each successive day out of town easier than the last. That really didn't happen yesterday (town food for breakfast, and then pizza for dinner), so the pack today weighed almost the same, making for a strenuous hike, especially through the rock fields, and especially for the last uphill of the day.
Water for my destination, the Raven Rock Shelter, is (according to the guidebook), 0.3 miles down a steep side trail. With a nearly 19 mile day, hiking an extra 0.6 (even if without my pack) just for water didn't seem that desirable, so instead, I loaded up on water at a creek about a mile before the shelter, adding four liters of water for cooking and drinking to whatever was still remaining in my water bladder. (This was the first time in a week I've had to filter water, thanks to stays at hostels, Harpers Ferry, and the parks along the way in MD. Tonight would likewise also be the first time in a week I had to cook food.)
Four liters of water weighs almost 9 pounds, so I probably had a fifty pound pack for the mile up the steep hill to the shelter. It was a huge pain to carry all that uphill (and also it was somewhat unbalanced), but I think it was probably worth it in time savings once I got to the shelter.
The Raven Rock Shelter is very nice, definitely one of the nicest I've stayed in on the trail. It has two levels of sleeping areas, and a large space between the sleeping area and the built-in picnic table, all under a common roof. The sleeping area is so far back, it'd be nearly impossible for it to get wet, even in a severe rainstorm. (It'd almost take horizontal rain, and the nearby trees would make that very difficult to accomplish.)
Tomorrow: more relatives are meeting me in Pen Mar, and then, on to Pennsylvania.