Hard slog in the hot sun 15.5 miles to mile 74.1.
Another late start (9.45, gasp!) and going 0.2m back south when I missed the turning where the shelter path joins the AT (my brain slowly woke up and told me going UP the mountain I had already scaled was probably a bad sign) meant that I had to push it to get to the shelter I was aiming for 15.5 miles away. It was also over 70f and not a breeze to be found, an amazing contrast to yesterday.
One reason for the delayed start was chatting with Dude, a just-retired Army veteran who, apart from being interesting to talk to, also pointed out the bear-stripped tree that was literally right outside my tent (and Wired’s I guess but she could out run a bear so no worries for her).
After lunching a bit with Sas (the new trail name of Tracey from Mass, which stands for Slow and Steady) and Wayne from Arkansas who has the best voice ans accent in the world, both of whom I have crossed over with several times, I pressed on, overtaking 76 year old Corsican who thru-hiked in 1999 and is doing a short section now for fun.
I ran into some trail magic at Dicks Creek Gap at mile 69.6 just when my core temperature was about to boil over. An old thru called Crazy Horse who looked like Joe Namath had apples, watermelon and cantaloupe melon waiting. I was so hot I wolfed them all down with no attempt at civilised English manners. That melon was so good, I can’t tell you. I met Ginko here who is a young thru currently hiking with a friend who is doing a section.
After that I felt much better and able to cope with 5 million foot of ascent that stood between there and Plumborchard shelter (yes I did spell that correctly and yes it was 5 million feet).
At the shelter I ran into Timber, a fellow Brit (the first I have met) who already completed the northern half of the AT in 2011 and is now tackling the southern half along with an American buddy Beer Hunter.
As soon as I had pitched my tent I went back to the mountain stream I crossed on the way in, about 200 yards from the shelter, stripped off and rinsed my hiking gear and myself. All of me. No pictures of this event are available. There were so many white salt and mineral deposits on my black baselayer it looked like it had a yeast infection so this was a good idea. It felt great after 8 hours hiking in the sun to have a cold water wash.
Apropos of nothing I have been driven slightly spare by the trail blazers who, in their infinite wisdom, keep blazing the one tree in the middle of an intersection – literally the only tree that tells me nothing!!!