May 5, 2013
Today’s mileage: 23.6
Total mileage: 662.8
We certainly put in a long day today, but we picked the right day for it. The terrain was mainly flat with only a couple of ups and downs that weren’t too tough. The first part of the day flew by on the flat trail we hiked towards Pine Swamp Branch Shelter, where we took our first break of the day. We passed plenty of trees that were in bloom and if I’m not mistaken, a few of them were apple trees. We had a beautiful view in a clearing early in the day while the sun was still shining.
We saw several deer today, on and along the trail. We saw eight deer total from morning until the end of the day. As we neared the shelter, a lone deer stood in the middle of the trail eating some plants. Once we saw the deer, we stopped and watched it quietly. It spotted us and every few seconds or so, it would pop its head up from eating and stare at us. Eventually, we had to keep hiking, so we slowly approached the deer, so as not to scare it too much, and it leapt off the trail and over a log. I thought that it would keep running, but only about ten feet off the trail, it stopped and stared at us again. We stared back. It actually started to approach us after a minute or so, which I had never seen before. Most deer I’ve encountered run away out of sight when they see you. We realized that we were cramping the deer’s style and were standing right where it had been eating, so we went on our way. Not long after we left, the deer returned to its feeding spot.
Only a few minutes later, we came upon a different type of wildlife: a four foot black snake. Miles was ahead and saw it first. He said to me, “don’t be alarmed, but there’s a huge black snake up ahead.”
Don’t be alarmed?! I’m not sure if that’s something I’m capable of when snakes are involved. Ever since I heard about the 5 foot snake in the privy, I check every privy for snakes before I enter. I kind of wish there were more open-air privies now. I know realize that they most certainly have their advantages.
We took a few pictures of the beast, the biggest snake I’ve ever seen outside of a zoo, and then I shuffled past it off trail. I know that it’s not poisonous, but snakes are still something that I’m trying to get used to out here.
The second half of our day had a steep uphill, a relatively flat section again, and then a downhill to the shelter. We saw four more deer this afternoon and evening. When we were about five miles from the shelter, it started to spit rain. We put on our rain gear, preparing for the worst. We got lucky however, as it really didn’t start raining steadily until after we got to the shelter just before 7:30.
It was a long day and our feet hurt as usual after a 20+ mile day. One of my lower heel blisters started hurting near the end of our hike, but other than that and a little foot soreness, nothing too major to report. I’ve definitely had plenty of days where my feet have hurt way worse. Only two other hikers were in the six-person shelter, so we were relieved to have a dry place to sleep for the night. We had chili for dinner and I had one of my mom’s homemade chocolate chip cookies afterwards. My mom sent us the chili too and it really hit the spot at the end of a long day. Plus, nothing beats my mom’s cookies!
The sound of raindrops on the roof is what we’ll fall asleep to tonight. I hope there’s no snoring, because I just lost one of my ear plugs in a crack between the floorboards. 😦