Today we woke up at 6:30 instead of 6:00 and I had my scrambled eggs, (which I have to make more of) a small crumb cake, and my banana in the car. The trail was right off the parkway which was nice, no crazy curvy gravel roads. Every morning Papa sings me, "Givemee a sign girl, that your mine girl." At first it was looking for blazes, now he just sings it. I went on my way and not even 15 minutes later I saw a bear in the woods, since this is my 5th bear I've seen I pulled out my phone. It's not that I am not affraid of the bears anymore; I am, but I am more comfortable seeing them and know 9 times out of 10 they run. They don't want to be bothered with me anymore than I do with them. As soon as I put my phone on camera; he ran. Damn. There were a few small uphills and I got to a nice overview with the clouds hung low. The rest of the day was all downhill, but gradual. There would be some steep parts and then it would level out with a slight down. I didn't mind this since I have my small pack-had it been my full pack I would have been swearing left and right. The day went on like this until I reached my first and only shelter where I had lunch. I practically ran down the hill towards the creek, and shelter, and found a bench. A nice, granite bench! I sat down and the cold of the stone felt great, I pulled out my ham sandwich and enjoyed. Nana had put a card in my pack the night before so I opened it after I was finished eating. It was a nice, encouraging surprise; and there was even a little charm on the card that said "Be Strong." I untied it from the card, and tied it on my necklace with my other charms. Yesterday the outsides of my knees puffed up and felt like i burnt them on something hot. I didn't know if I got a bite, or if it was just a different kind of rash since I get heat rash. Today they looked more like a sore, I am guessing it is from the sweat and salt that it's starting chafe and rub raw. I put some Neosporin and a bandaid on each side and put my knee braces back on. I left my lunch spot a little before 12:30 with 5.1 miles left, and a tentative pickup time of 3:00. Those 5 miles were GREAT terrain; it was a nice dirt path, with a few ups and downs but mostly flat and gradual. I was flying, listening to Pandora since I don't have to worry about conserving battery and I had 4G. I texted both Nana and Papa letting them know that I would be there early. Papa had told me he should be done setting up at the new campground around 2:00 so any time after that was fine; it was now 1:40 and I only had a mile left to go. They said no problem that they would be there in a half hour. At the last leg; I saw a man I had seen for the first time the day before, he asked if I was enjoying slackpacking-I explained how I was loving it. He said how he has done it a couple times and feels the same. We talked until the road (not even 5 minutes) and he told me his name was Canyonman. I asked him if he needed a ride somewhere or if he was all set, and he said if we could bring him to the hostel that would be great. I called Nan and Pup and they said they would be there in 15 minutes. GoHard walked up and said he was going to the hostel as well and all he had to do was call the owner for a shuttle; Canyonman thanked me for offering, but said he will just wait for the shuttle pickup. I heard a beep from the road below; looked to see the PT, and waved. They came up to meet me and thankfully the rain waited until my pickup. We went over to Kings Popcorn and I got a mini bag of kettle corn, Nana got a medium bag of caramel corn, and Papa a bag of salt and vinegar pork rinds. We got to the new campground 15 minutes later where we stopped in the camp store. I got two camping/hiking frames to put a couple photos from my trip in at the end, and a bottle of green tea/honey/white wine to try. After showering we went to the grocery store to pickup some more lunch meat, bananas, and other stuff. Nana said there was some good sounding restaurants and breweries around so we decided to try Blue Mountain Brewery. The grounds were beautiful, too bad it was too humid to sit outside because it was so picturesque. We sat inside and Nana and I ordered the sampler of 10 of their beers. I ordered the Cuban sandwich with a side salad and everything was great! Nana got bread pudding to-go and we headed back to the campground. I had a lot to do; I put away the groceries, made more scrambled eggs, made my sandwich and portioned out some Cheetos, filled my water and snacks, and figured out where my pickup spot will be for tomorrow with Papa. Tomorrow I enter Shenandoah National Park, looks like I will be doing 19.9 miles. The forecast on my phone shows sunny and 90 degrees so I set my alarm for 5:30...not thrilled and neither is Papa, but the heat is going to be killer and I have a lot of miles to cover. I am laying in bed, and now it is time to go to bed! Tomorrow I will have to bust into that wine after 19.9 miles!
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