(05/28/19) I slept pretty well last night. I woke up in a big comfy bed as we stayed in a hotel. I showered again, even though I showered the night before. Got to take advantage of these showers when we can. I went down to the hotel lobby to feast on their breakfast buffet. I had two bowls of cereal, gravy biscuits, eggs, tons of doughnuts, muffins, juice and coffee.

I finished up breakfast and headed back up to the room to get some work done while waiting on Mulligan to get up and eat. He did so, we packed up, and met with the Colonel to hit the road. On our way back to the trail we stopped at a Dollar Store to resupply. We were in and out pretty quickly and on our way back to Devil’s Backbone Brewery. Mulligan was hungry again so he got lunch there. He finished up and we headed out to the parking lot to wait for the shuttle back to the trail. There we ran into Double Check, whom we met a day or two ago, and two new thru hikers we hadn’t met before… Go Forth and March Forth. A husband and wife team who got their names by starting this year on guess what day???? March 4th:)

Our shuttle arrived, scooped us up, and we were off. We were back at the trail within minutes and piling out of the truck one by one. Mulligan took off up the trail and I hiked behind and chatted with March Forth and Go Forth some. We discussed the usual…where are you from, when did you start, what’s your trail name, how did you get it, etc. They noted that they were a bit slower than most and that I could hike ahead if I wanted to. I broke away at some point as we made our way up our only real steep incline of the day.

I was pretty excited about the hike today as the elevations looked pretty easy. More or less like rolling hills all day. Steady ups and downs are really nice. It keeps things interesting. Believe it or not hiking on flat ground can get boring. Obviously climbing steep inclines can be tough. And hiking down steep mountains can be dangerous and tough on your legs and knees. Though we were hiking through rolling hills, they were full of rocks, so I took my time maneuvering my way through them.

We got a pretty late start seeing how we stayed in a hotel last night. Not that staying in a hotel means you have to start late. We figure we’re paying for a room, so we my-as-well get the most out of it. Showers, breakfast, comfortable sleep, catch up on work, etc.

We weren’t but a few miles in before I saw a long big black rat snake. We’ve seen more and more of these lately. This one was perched up on a rock right by the trail. Though these aren’t supposed to be dangerous, I was worried someone might not see it and walk right by it and get bit. So I snapped some photos and video and nudged him along gently. He slithered off the rock, down onto the trail and then off the other side into the woods.

It wasn’t was but a few minutes later I came across another big long black rat snake. This one was on the ground close to the trail as well. Again I snapped some photos and videos and nudged him along. This one headed straight for a tree, and started climbing right up it! It was amazing. I didn’t know these things could climb trees. I mean, I know I’ve seen and heard of snakes being in trees before. I just figured they needed a lot of branches to climb to get up a tree. This one literally just slithered right up the tree. Not wrapping itself around and around either. Literally went straight up it. How was it doing this? What was it grabbing onto? I can’t climb a tree like that and I’ve got 2 arms and 2 legs. Wow! 🙂

I caught up with Mulligan. We were both out of water and feeling the burn from the big hike yesterday. With us getting a late start, and needing to get water, and it getting late in the day, we decided to stop at a “stealth” camp site coming up ahead. A “stealth” camp site is one that’s not really established. Like they aren’t official places designated for camping. Though they often have fire rings for fires, and places cleared out for tents.

We grabbed water and made our way to the stealth site. It wasn’t bad. It wasn’t great either. Barely enough space for 2 tents. We were in luck as there was only 2 of us. So we got setup. We cooked and ate dinner. It wasn’t too long before Go Forth and March Forth caught up with us. They were planning on staying at this spot too. There wasn’t enough room so they kept going. They didn’t have to go too much further to find a nice spot. It was probably better than our spot actually.

There was supposed to be a nice view right above us on a large rock formation. We finished up our dinner and climbed on top of it to check out the views. Unfortunately the trees were too full and blocked the view. We hung out for a little while anyway. A few other thru hikers passed by. It was getting dark– we hoped they found somewhere to setup soon.

We retired to our tents. We only got 7 miles in today. But hey, that’s better than taking a full “zero day” and not getting any miles in at all. I actually really liked these “nero days”. Typically a nero day is only a few miles. Like 1 – 3 miles on your way into town, or leaving a town. Now if we could just figure out how to get like 10 miles in on days like this, we’d make further progress, faster. I caught up on some work before falling asleep in my tent. (05/28/19)

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