Better progress since Damascus than predicted meant I only had 9 easy miles to knock off before I could get to a hot shower and rest.
Not only did I sleep badly last night but birdsong woke me at 5:50am! The light just before dawn (I think dawn is now 6:10 or so) is weird because you can see quite clearly but not with any colour. I had meant to note this down before but again today I see everything in shades if grey until sunup. One of my bags is bright yellow normally but at 5:50am it is bright grey. Weird.
I dragged myself up and found the day to be much cooler and less humid than for a week or more. I had to wear a fleece until ready to hike and my hands were really quite cold.
Within a couple miles I thought I saw a Sasquatch skulking deep in the forest but closer examination showed it to be Lost & Found!
He had wild camped 40 yards off trail the night before as he wasn’t sure where a tent site might be and he wanted to avoid Saturday night ‘party sites’ near roads. This time he had me try some homemade fruit jerky which was delicious. This was the final day of his section.
Early on I heard something I have heard almost every day on the AT: the woodpecker. I have meant to capture this for a while so here’s a quick video of a typical scene.
At mile 539.8 was an interesting experience showing it isn’t always peace, quiet and birdsong on the AT!
At mile 540 is a small preserved early American settlement including this late 19th century schoolhouse. All very Little House On The Prairie!
Coming out of the meadows onto Route 11 was a bit jarring but it was great to go straight into a gas station and get a chocolate shake, iced coffee, pizza slice and ice cream right away. Outside were Paperweight, Sas, T-Bar, Axeman, Ginko and Spike who were moving on and Waldo who was just organising a shuttle to take him back to Damascus since his current section is over.
Waldo graciously said he would share his shuttle with me (and then paid for it!) to save me organising a ride myself and then Lost & Found appeared and got himself a piece of the shuttle action too. We got a final picture to commemorate a final goodbye. He may refer to me as a foreign reprobate but he has good food so it’s worth humouring him.
Deposited at the Comfort Inn I went for a long walk along the gravel hard shoulder of route 11 only to find the laundromat closed on Sundays. A nice lady called Dana gave me a ride back to the motel and I washed the worst items by hand and hung them to dry.
The lady at the front desk told me the barbecue restaurant across the street was closed today as well so at 3:20pm I went to the Subway for lunch, the only other option, and saw the barbecue restaurant had been open until twenty minutes ago. Thanks.
The rest of the day was spent with planning upcoming section resupply.