Rocky Run Shelter [mile 2169.9; SOBO 1151.5]
Is it just me, or does seeing ‘Rocky Run’ make you immediately start singing Rocky Raccoon?
I woke up to frozen water again, and one stake was frozen into the ground. But I tried a few new things. It’s astonishing, isn’t it? The tweaking and adapting never end, even with just a couple of days to go. I’ve started to pack my pack in a whole new way to try to alleviate my back and shoulder pain, and it’s been helpful… but truth be told, I think it’s carrying less food and water that have done it. The pack just doesn’t carry the way it used to, and my bones don’t sit correctly under it.
I’m now deflating my mat first instead of last so I can get it lower in the pack. I’m deflating my pillow last so I can sit on it while I’m packing. I’m keeping my down booties and pants on until the last minute. But the two big changes this morning: I packed up in my mittens, and I hiked the first four hours or so in my down jacket and hood.
That last is a big nono—right up there with “Cotton kills!” But you know what? I’m so far from sweating into my down in the morning that it’s not even funny. And even though last night was probably the coldest I’ll have to weather for the balance of the hike, this morning wasn’t as bad as it’s been.
Adapt, adapt, adapt! Even with 48 hours left.
So I hit the trail at around 8:00, decadently late. Yesterday when I was talking with Broken Candle, we both kept laughing at the thought of doing ten miles a day for three days. I feel like a ridiculous (but amused) slacker. If it were warm, I’d be having picnics and lighting campfires! But it’s been a blessing to be able to really stop and smell the roses, as they say, instead of pumping my little hamster legs for all they’re worth. I’ve been getting to take lunch breaks. Today I took a side trip to my last monument: the Washington Monument. (No, not that one.)
I finally got to the easy part of Maryland! The trail was varying degrees of dirtwalk and hiker superhighway all day. There were some climbs, but they were relatively brief and with wide trail.
The sky was blue again, instead of November gray, but at 11:00 AM my breath was still white in the air. My little sweet spot of warmth didn’t hit until noon, and it only lasted a couple of hours, tops. That’s when I finally was able to take off my puffy.
You know what I’m looking forward to? Wearing a scarf: a big, fluffy, winter scarf. And my coat with the hood!
There were a few hikers out today—day hikers, mostly, although there’s a backpacker of some flavor here at the shelter. I passed him earlier, and he said the words that always give me a jolt of surprise: “You’re Karma?” But it turns out that this guy was at the same shelter as Broken Candle last night. Hiker rule number one: All it takes is two hikers in the same location to set the Hiker Information Network buzzing.
The trail passed the Washington Monument, a tower that was used as a lookout point during the… was it the Civil War? I’m going crazy out here! I can’t remember a plaque I read four hours ago! Anyway, yeah. It was cool! My last monument, I imagine.
One more full day, then six miles on Friday. I’m nervous and excited. My emotions have really been on the surface for the last few days. I cry easily. This is all so hard to wrap my head around. I wonder how I’ll react on Friday? Will the emotion be drained out of me before then, so all that’s left is elation?
I kind of hope so. I’m down to my last pack of tissues.