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1000 mile mark

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July 3- -ugh I have poison ivy. Put desitin on to keep it from spreading and waited for the rain to stop before breaking camp and heading out at 8am. passed cottons tent at 9am so he didn't go too far after leaving me off. I Didn't stop to chat. I need to do 17 mile days if I want to reach Harper's Ferry Friday. Got to skyland resort at 1 and decided to eat there. I felt bad sitting inside smelling as bad as I KNOw I do but they didn't have outside seating. Got a salad burger and fries. Twinkle toes and blue were at the next table with a few others I didn't know. I was busy texting Kathleen about what to take for my poison ivy I didn't join their group. Met Amy and friend in lobby after lunch they hiked the AT a piece and we chatted. Lots of people around picnicking and hiking. Once a girl gave me trail magic grapes and another time a couple wanted a picture with me. Not used to all this attention!! Started to rain a little around 3. Got to Byrd shelter and blue was settled in. I decided to move on to next shelter 4 miles up but only made it 3 miles and it was getting dark so I stopped. Walked in front of a car thinking traffic came from left but it was a ramp. Sheesh. That would have been awful. Survive 950 miles of bears bugs thunderstorms snakes ... And get pegged by a car. Hung bear bag and set up camp before total dark. Forgot to hang trash and had some spoiled no-bake cookies (yeah! They get moldy! Who knew!?) so I tossed my cookies down the bank and prayed bears wouldn't try to get in for more.

July 4-6am heard what sounded like a man loudly "huh huh huh" and then loud crashing close by. I assume a bear. I clapped my hands and shook my rain fly before peeking out to make sure no large omnivore was lurking nearby. Not raining yet so I gathered up as fast as I could. Not quite fast enough . Started raining as I stuffed my things in my pack. Kept the wet fly out in case it got bad and headed for the elk wallow wayside 7 miles up trail. Got there at noon and there were several hikers already there. As we ordered and waited the rain started. It rained pretty hard for about an hour while we ate. Several of them were discussing whether to get beer and head to the next shelter 5.7 miles up. I didn't want to be around for that so I politely headed out into the rain. Some sprinkling, some pouring and then kinda cleared a little and got foggy. I hiked until 8 and set up a stealth site before checking GPS. I did my first 1% day!! 21.89 miles is one percent of the total mileage - WooHoo!! Laying here listening to fireworks somewhere. Hope I can sleep!

July 5- rainy morning so I dawdled a bit. Met Letitia Leah and freesia-dog on trail near gap. Nice lady. Chatty. Sunshine streaming through leaves in most. Very humid. Happy when I passed out of SNF. Stopped to chat with group of adventurers from a day camp catching critters in a stream. Got to 522 around 11 with some hikers from day before who were going into front Royal. Day turned hot and humid and I could feel myself slow way down on the climbs. Stopped to call home when I hit route 55/66. Still not getting a good connection. I only had two miles to the shelter but it was a climb. Storm blowdown made it tough in spots. Looked like a bunch of trees were snapped off or twisted off 15 feet up. Made it to shelter by 7. Got water. Made dinner. Hung hammock by skip from England. Sunset was very red. Hope that means sunny tomorrow? 16.4 miles.

July 6- up and out by 6:15. Pretty quiet morning. Mowgli and friend passed me around noon in park meadow before route 50. I slipped in the mud and went down on my butt- got nice and filthy but didn't hurt anything. Lots of climbs and descents but all were reasonably short. Stopped for water around 3 and made dinner. Rabbit came by and sounded like she was not sure if she was staying at shelter or pushing for the 1000 mile mark. I wasn't sure how the Roller Coaster was going to be so I set my sights on 17 miles. Turned out the rocks were challenging but not overly so. I made it to a really nice campsite at mile 998 so I'll pass the 1000 mark in the morning. I'm trying to ignore my poison ivy but find myself scratching at it. Hope it doesn't spread too badly!! I think I'm getting prickly heat on my back from being wet all day. Got to camp and ditched the shirt while setting up. Felt nice until the bugs found all that white flesh. Gaaaahh! - 18 miles

July 7- Harper's ferry was only 24 miles away- I started out the morning very hopeful. I had 8 miles of "the roller coaster" to finish up and I passed the 1000 mile mark. Then the rocky terrain kicked in and I slogged through until 2pm trying to get those 8 miles behind me. My toes felt bruised on the ends and my left shin felt like shin splints. Gah! It was very discouraging. I sat on a rock and booted my phone to check where I was and the screen went black. Oh NO! Even out in the back country I haven't fully disengaged from my technology and I had no idea if there was a Verizon store in or near Harper's ferry and no way to call Nelle because nobody memorizes phone numbers anymore. Craaaaaap! A SOBO hiker, Bean, came along and said there was a hostel a couple miles ahead so I decided to put panic on the back burner and I'd figure out a game plan when I got there. By the time I limped past the sign for Blackburn Trail Center I didn't care that it was a .3 mile downhill and I had only done 12.5 miles. I was DONE for the day. The climb down was nicely graded switchbacks and the house at the bottom was an old cottage owned by PATC. I was greeted by the caretakers and handed an orange soda and invited to spaghetti dinner and access to the solar shower. I took the shower. All the hot water was gone but it felt AWESOME to be clean. I prolly should have skipped the spaghetti since I had noodles for lunch and pasta tends to churn my belly a bit. But I had seconds. And bread/butter and watermelon and sweet tea. Aaaaaahhhh. Decided to sleep in the bunkhouse instead of setting everything up. No mattresses so it was just my sleeping bag on the plywood platform and late hikers were noisy getting settled. It was 11:00 last time I checked my watch. Sigh!Oh! The phone resolution was that I had turned the screen brightness to its lowest setting in attempt to save battery. It looked black in the sunshine... panic was not required!

July 8- 3:45am I heard something chewing something plastic on the front deck. Since my pack was out there I feared the worst. I was top bunk so I figured I'd just gather up and head out. With help of the red light on my headlamp I got myself to the porch and decided to make a
privy run. My headlamp was so dim
I could barely see so I reached up to tilt it toward the ground and found I had the bulb pointed at my forehead. Sheesh! All packed and dressed it was not quite 5am and too dark for my comfort so I sat on the porch of the cottage charging my electronics and journaling until light enough to see. 6pm now. Made it to Harper's ferry and ATC headquarters folks were super sweet. I'm camping in a town park tonight authorized by ATC. No water available so I'm bandana bathing so I won't smell too bad for Nelle's visit tomorrow. I can't wait to see FAMILY!!
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