Today was one long day! I hiked more miles today than I have done since David (Plant) and I did, when we the hiked across the state of Maryland in one day while on the Appalachian Trail. It was 41.6 miles from where I camped this morning to where I hitched into town tonight.
I woke up 30 minutes earlier than normal, getting packed up and on the trail by 5:30, instead of the normal 6 am. I looked ahead at the elevation profile and saw a good sight, not much change in elevation and the change was gradual. I did not plan on doing such a big day until about 11 am. I came to a trail register and saw that David was only two hours ahead of me. So I made it my goal to try to catch him.
It was a beautiful sunny day of hiking with lots of hiking on the rim of a valley. There was a good amount of exposure today, which made for some great views. I ran into only a few other thru hikers, most of them were part of one big group.
I had to actually pay attention to where the water sources were for the first time since the desert. But I was fine with 2 liters only, going dry for just a few miles.
I made a steady pace at 3 miles an hour. The difference between today and other days, besides starting earlier, was that I only breaked for about 15 minutes all day.
After hiking on the rim, the trail dropped down and continued through fields and clearings. The last section was past a river and hydroelectric plant which was super cool.
I reached the road that lead into town at 7:00 on the dot,13.5 hours after starting. I stuck out my thumb and was able to get a ride into town after only about 15 minutes. The man dropped me off at the Word of Life Church. This church allows hikers to stay in the gymnasium - they also had showers! I was thrilled, not only did I get a very solid days hiking in, but I could take a shower for the first time since South Lake Tahoe.
There were about 14 other hikers who were also spending the night there.
For dinner, I walked over to the McDonald's, where I got food and met another hiker whose name is Dish. He and I talked while we ate about the trail and about what we did when not hiking. He was a structural engineer, before quitting his job to come out here and hike. He told me that he had hiked into Chester twice - once to buy food, and the other time to pick up his phone charger and battery he had left plugged into the wall outside the grocery store. Thankfully it was still plugged in when he got there.
Before I hit the sack, I did some thinking:
I am almost positive that I will not be able to finish the trail this summer although I will get extremely close. I expect I will be just a week or two short on time. My goal is to get as far as possible to the end.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time so far on the trail, and I am looking forward to being finished for the sole reason that it will mean I will be starting my studies a Texas A&M.
I feel that there is no better way to experience God's creation than to get out, hike, and be in the middle of it. I have seen so much beauty over the past 60 some odd days that I have been out here and have met some wonderful people.