Day 42 and 43

Day 42 – Station at 19E to Moreland Gap Shelter – 18.4 miles

Yikes.  Am I really doing 18 miles my third day back on trail? Apparently so, as I made reservations at Boots Off Hostel 2 days from now. The Station at 19E was great.  There are many bunks. The food was really good (get the Hiker Mac and Cheese) and breakfast was scrambled eggs, bacon, biscuits and gravy and muffins. As the shuttle back to the trailhead doesn’t start up until after breakfast, I decided to go ahead and purchase it. My concern was waiting until after 9am to return back to trail, as I knew 18 miles was going to be a long day.

I didn’t realize how many waterfalls we were going to pass by. Jones, Mountaineer and Hardcore Cascade. The terrain was fairly easy, only a few ups and downs. I passed by the 400 mile marker. 

It sprinkled off and on but thankfully no hard rain. I made it to the shelter and being tired, decided to set up for the night there instead of my tent.  It was supposed to rain overnight after all, right? 

I tossed and turned all night. My legs were sore. Both hips hurt and trying to lay on either side was a lesson in futility.  Oh and another hiker scored like a lumberjack. Welcome to shared accommodations.  

Day 43 – Moreland Gap Shelter to Boots Off Hostel 14.8 miles

I roused around 5am. Another hiker in the shelter was packing her things to leave. The lumberjack was still cutting down a forest. I decided around 5:30am to also pack my belongings. A breakfast cookie and away I went. 

The first part of the morning went well. The trail took us by a stream and meadow. Then the long walk through the Pond Wilderness towards Laurel Falls. 

The descent to the falls is a long, boulder strewn one. I carefully made my way down and shared the view with 2 hikers from last night’s shelter. There was a refreshing breeze that blew in across the water.  We didn’t stay long as sprinkles of rain started to fall. I knew the hike out was going to take me awhile. 

After you make your way along a rock ledge and the river, the trail opens up to a flat, easy walk by the stream.  There were several campsites that looked glorious.  Crossed a couple wooden bridges then the hard – and I mean HARD – climb up Pond Mountain began. It seemed that the ascent never stopped. Every turn of the trail yielded yet another climb towards the heavens. I had flashbacks of Mollie’s Ridge and Big Bald. Good Lord, when was this going to end? 

Just as I checked on FarOut how much further until the hostel, I could hear the rains coming. It’s interesting in the mountains – the winds come in like a freight train long before you feel them. And with the rain, you can hear the drops in the distance long before you feel them. I stopped and donned my raincoat just in time. I was 4.4 miles from the hostel. Almost made it! 

Boots Off is just steps from the trail. However, the driveway is 450 feet – all uphill. It’s a cruel joke but they do have encouraging signs to help hikers along. A nice hot shower (the hottest one on trail so far), they’ll do your laundry for $5 and 2 runs at 5 and 6pm to town for a resupply and stops at Subway and McDonald’s for those who would rather not cook dinner. They do have a decent resupply at the hostel store if you don’t want to trek into town. 

Damascus is 3 days away. Crazy. I have a room reserved and will take a zero there. I look forward to seeing what Trail Town USA has to offer. 

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