I woke this morning in the Mountain Home Cabbin (spelled correctly) hostel on a bed with sheets and a blanket. The windows were open, the overnight rains had stopped, and a cool mountain breeze was blowing through the room across the four of us. I didn’t want to get up.
I heard Scott downstairs making breakfast for the five hostel guests, including Olaf. This was to maintain the status of a bed and breakfast. That status also means that no hikers can tent outside or sleep on the floor of the Cabbin. We gathered around the kitchen table for breakfast at 7:30. We had eggs, waffles, toast, bagels, fruit, and a beverage. We ate well and thanked Scott. While he cleaned up, we finished packing.
I left first and went the one-third mile back to where the AT crossed the road at mile 965.1. The trail then turned back along the road that I had just walked. Tandem, Mio, and Johnny Utah all just turned right at Smithsonian Gate 7, where the AT heads north along the Cabbin’s fenced property. That yellow blaze move is against “purist” rules and put them ahead of me.
I spent most of the first couple of miles climbing and corresponding with Couch Control about overnighting a box to the ATC HQ office in Harpers Ferry, WV, where we should be on sunny Saturday. We are excited. I met a box turtle in the trail on this cool morning.
I was texting Tandem with my location and finally caught up with the trio at mile 975.8 at the Manassas Gap shelter. We had lunch there with Crow Foot, who we have caught up with. Tandem and I were the last to leave due to me getting water.
The next several miles were flatish. Tandem and I reached the Sky Meadows State Park, where we caught up with the other hikers, passing Crow Foot and walking quietly behind Mio and Johnny Utah. At the north end of the state park was US 50/17 — a very tough, high-speed road to cross! After heading up the hill, I crossed paths with a rare orange salamander.
At 18:00, our destination was the Rod Hollow shelter, 3.5 miles away at mile 988.7. We arrived by 19:30 and set up our tents and hammocks. Left Turn and other hikers we’d been behind for a while were already there. We rejoiced in seeing each other again and made rice and mashed potatoes for dinner. The food bags went on the bear pole and we all retired later than the rest of the campsite.
This has been a 23.6 mile day. Tomorrow we pass 1000 miles and hike the dreaded “roller coaster”.