Getting going slowly, we had been dehydrated the other day put me me in a funk and Crawford as well. The toll our body takes doing ten plus miles without any water definitely affected us this morning. I drank my fill of water and Gatorade hoping to would help level me out by the end of the day. The four of us hiked down and pushed past the road by mid morning. The sounds of gunfire could be heard inthe distance, not causing alarm yet. Up we climbed the switchbacks to the ridgeline, ever pressing closer to the sound of gunfire; the sounds of a 240 bravo ripping through the air.
Hiking for what seemed like hours we stopped at a water source to refill. To our surprise it had been just over an hour, the day had started to draw out making it feel like it was going to go on forever. Closer still we hiked towards the gunfire, now single 556, saw and 240 bravo could be heard. There were either ranges out here or a shoot house using Miles gear or Sim rounds. Our entire afternoon would be filled with this new soundtrack for the hike. Our day running on and on we made little to no progress.
I took the lead and set out a crushing pace of 3 to 4 miles and hour and even then we would only hike for an hour before finding out we had gone almost no where. Our hiker hunger was on fire, if we weren’t drinking we were eating all of our food for the next two days. Crawford at three lunches and I ate all my snacks for the day. Hiker hunger was real and it was destroying us that day, we couldn’t feed enough. Again I set out this time for the shelter in hopes to find refuge from the hunger.
Three more miles down underfoot with music blaring and trail brain guiding me, we reached the shelter. The smoother terrain made our afternoon a bit easier for once. The sweet sign gave us hope of a hot meal and some rest. Even the short miles we had done had taken thier toll on us. Walking into the shelter the only thing we thought of was getting our stoves out and eating, paying little attention to Deja Vu, who happened to be napping there. Food that’s all I cared about, that’s all we cared about.
Stoves cooking, we focused back on each other and talked, joking that the section hikers might not make it here for Zen to have company. He wanted to stay and the four of us, Deja Vu, Tank, Crawford and I wanted to push to Lickdale. We teased Zen a bit about them making it here to the shelter. More than likely we thought they probably and should of gotten off at the road, they weren’t in the best shape anymore. Deja Vu headed out first while I rested. He had been there for a few hours so I knew we could catch him on the trail.
Crawford, Tank, and I pushed out wishing Zen luck as we said goodbye. His mother was going to pick him up the next day so we wanted to get ahead of him. The smooth trail brought us to a bridge, a small little foot bridge. Here I told them not to worry would get a hitch to town so we wouldn’t have to walk another two miles. True to my word not ten minutes later we had come across a day hiker who offered to take us to town at the gap. This gave us the necessary push to haul ass over Second Mountain and catch Deja Vu. Catching him we Mae the last mile to the road and caught our ride into town. Milkshakes and 40 piece nuggets were on the brain. Eating our fill for the night we camped Ina lone field sleeping deeply with full bellies.
Getting up early it was evident the heat would sap us for the day. We headed back to McDonald’s for breakfast and waited for hours to see if Zen would make it to town. By 3 inthe afternoon we were itching to go to Pine Grove. Instead of taking the AT we took a blue blaze of the same distance along the river. The heat of the day couldn’t be escaped even there, the huge mosquitos hunted and bit us at every turn. We pushed hard over the ten miles to get to town and get a room inside with AC and a shower. The relentless mosquitos gave us nothing but motivation to huff it out without stopping. The long day with no breaks was finally rewarded when Crawford magically got us a room at the Hampton.