Day 49 – Ponies Ponies Ponies Ponies Ponies
Oh my, the days just keep getting better. It was pretty fortuitous that we ended up stopping where we did yesterday. Had we pushed on to Wise Shelter we would have been sorely disappointed. And of course missed all the wildlife in the Grayson Highlands.
The sunlight peered over the trees and into my rainfly-less tent and woke me up around 7AM. Morning dew had been accumulating on my tent and sleeping bag (normally it stays outside the rainfly) since 11PM the night before, but I stayed warm and slept well nonetheless. I was up first again and followed a similar pattern to the day before. Photo editing, breakfast, and pack everything up into my bag.
Rabbit and I were low on food and needed a resupply today. We could take a pricey shuttle in to a general store at 3 miles in today or hike 13 miles (or 18) to where we could be picked up by a cheaper hostel, stay overnight, shower, and get breakfast. The decision was relatively easy, or so we thought.
We decided to bite off the 18-mile option and it ended up being more than we could chew. First off, we started relatively late for so many miles, 9:30AM. Second, Rabbit and I needed water that morning and, despite leaving camp first, took a detour that put us behind Sip and Hatcher. But the detour was probably the best part of the day.
Our FarOut app told us the nearest water was 2.8 miles from us. Less than 1 mile into hiking we found a blue blaze (water marker) pointing us into a field. When we glanced into the field we saw a large cow (steer?) eating something from a fire pit (which seemed odd). We walked over to say hi and snap a few photos of the cow.
We continued on following the blue blazes into a clearing and when we saw them. At least 20 more cows. Ones with horns, ones without, and babies! We took more photos and eventually made it over to the water, which was “hella gucci” (what we’ve been calling good running water). After retrieving our water and snapping a few more photos, we head off back down the trail.
Not long after that we encountered the same mother and baby ponies from the night before. They were maybe 20ft off the trail when we stopped to take more photos. The mother was standing and eating grass and the baby was lying down. We had a mini photo shoot with the ponies before moving on.
Through a “Fatman squeeze” rock formation and next set of hills we found… more ponies! This was a group of maybe 7 right along the trail. Naturally, more photos were taken, and naturally, over the next set of hills… even more ponies!! Truly a fantastic experience and one I’ll never forget.
We took so much time with all these animals that by the time we left them all, it was nearly noon and we had only gone 3 miles. If we were going to make it the full 18, we were going to need to pick it up. Our pace quickened, and we caught up with Sip and Hatcher for a quick snack at Wise Shelter. We were pleased we had not stayed there and missed out on our experience this morning.
I hiked with Rabbit the rest of the afternoon bouncing resupply and lodging options off each other. About 7 miles from our final destination, we ran into a gentleman we had met the night prior. He was a weekend hiker who we affectionately gave the trail name “Mr. Debbie” or “Little Debbie’s Dad” (because he looked like he could have been, whatever that means). He offered to give us a ride into town. After conferring with Sip and Hatcher, the audible was called for our new plans.
He took us to Grayson Highlands Base Camp Hostel in Troutdale. A town with no cell service, no store to resupply, and a hostel with minimal Wi-Fi (not enough to post a blog anyways) and a pretty poor resupply selection. Rabbit asked if I was mad. I told him I wasn’t mad, just disappointed.
The night was not a total loss, however. We did manage to get a pretty sweet tramily photo in what we referred to as “Cult-like sacrificial robes.”
We turned in for the night after microwaving some frozen dinners, charging devices and doing laundry. Looking forward to a better resupply in a few days.
Until then, stow away in my pack for Day 50 on the Appalachian Trail.
The last but certainly not least of the Dimes. The quiet confidant who we can always count on to keep Brent in check. You’re a great friend and I’m glad to have met you. Don’t be a stranger.
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