I woke up at 8:20 this morning. I deliberately slept later so the Four State Challenge finishers, Tandem, Scout, and Ragnar, could sleep in. Then the silence was broken by 20 children loudly walking through the campsite on their way to the Tumbling Run Shelters, nine miles north. Together with a shelter keeper they planned to clean and fix things. The shelter keeper stopped after the kids had left, explained what they were doing, and warned us to fill up with water at this shelter. I thanked him, and he was on his way.
I was happy to be hiking with Tandem again, which would not have worked out if the package to us in Smithsburg had arrived a day later. Johnny Utah and Snail Man left back to back, and Tandem and I left shortly after that, leaving Scout and Ragnar alone. They were headed into Blue Ridge Summit, PA, for a package.
Tandem was tired from the Four State Challenge, so I let her lead in the morning. We climbed 600 feet to 1350 feet and then crossed a few roads headed for Deer Lick shelters. We took a break there, signed the log, and moved on. It was mostly downhill past the Antietam shelter and through the Old Forge Picnic area. I got water there, but Tandem missed the opportunity to clean up in the bathroom.
We had lunch at the Tumbling Run shelters, which were very well kept and had a separate pavilion in the middle. Pebble stones decorated the areas around the structures.
We arrived at the trail to the Rocky Mountain shelters by 15:30. The shelters were one third of a mile down the trail, and the water was another half mile from that. We had caught up with Johnny Utah, who was going 5.6 miles to the next shelter, and decided to do the same — after I verified that Tandem was physically able to do so.
The next few miles were tough as we traversed the rocky ridges and never seemed to reach the expected downhill. It finally dropped to busy US 30. After that, the trail took us into the Caledonia State Park. We hiked on and found the Germans and Johnny Utah near the park pool.
The concessions stand had food, so Tandem and I got chicken fingers and fries with Mountain Dews. We enjoyed an early dinner, and Tandem’s spirits were lifted. We even got free refills on our drinks due to being thru hikers!
The other hikers had gone to shower and swim in the pool, so we paid the $4 each and did the same. Because it was dinner time the pool was very quiet. I loved the hot shower and cold pool after hiking 18 miles to get there. There was even a water slide that we enjoyed.
We all took hot showers again after leaving the pool and put our hiking clothes back on. We had a 2.2 mile, 400 foot climb to the Quarry Gap shelters. We were last to leave while I filled up my water from the water fountain. Halfway to the shelters it began to sprinkle, so we put on our pack covers. We arrived at the shelters at 19:30 and joined the others in hanging our wet clothes and eating some more.
We decided to sleep in one of the shelters while Johnny Utah opted to sleep on the covered platform between the shelters. More rain is expected tonight.
Tomorrow we cross the halfway point and participate in the half gallon ice cream challenge!