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AT 2017: Day 97, Campsite at Mile 1262.2 to Campsite at Mile 1276.9

Who was dragged down by the stone

Hike with Gravity

There have been many days like yesterday. I hope there will be many more.

These are days when difficult climbs are rewarded with magnificent vistas. Long hiking miles are rewarded with opportunities to meet interesting people.

These are the days I enjoy the most.

Today was not one of those days.

Date
Weather Clear sky, becoming partly cloudy, with a high temperature in the low 80s and high humidity
Trail Conditions Rocks, rocks and more rocks
Today's Miles 14.7 miles
Trip Miles 1,276.9 miles

The last quarter mile or so of walking last night was done with just barely enough light to see. I kept thinking I was near the campsite, so I didn’t stop to get out my headlamp.

I was glad to see Stick’s headlamp shining just off the trail when I finally approached the campsite. The light helped me find my way off trail to the site.

Our campsite was a small, waterless spot tucked in among trees on the side of Blue Mountain.

After leaving the campsite just before 8:00 this morning, the trail was rocky from the get-go. It was also filled with weeds in several places, making the rocks hard to see.

The trail made a short descent to Blue Mountain Drive. I ran into RedEye, Jason and Boomer, who had camped near the road.

Immediately after crossing the road, the trail made a rocky, steep, but short climb near a ski resort. The trail didn’t go close enough for me to see the resort, and for the most part, there were no views to be seen.

The trail continued along a broad, nearly flat ridge. Normally, a flat trail would be welcomed, despite the rocks. This section was so flat and with no points of interest that it was boring.

Combined with hot and humid weather, the trail became more tiresome by the mile. It was wearing me down.

I plodded along, listening to podcasts in hopes they would make the miles go faster. They didn’t help much. By mid-afternoon I felt drained.

When I reached Smith Gap Road I came upon a couple of men talking. One of them, a guy known as Mechanical Man, mentioned he had spent a long time talking with Stick. This didn’t surprise me.

As I was leaving, Mechanical Man’s large Doberman suddenly became aggressive, barking loudly and lunging at me. I backed away to let it know I was not a threat. I made sure of this because I’ve heard of hikers being bitten by dogs so badly that the hikers had to get off the trail.

The dog continued to bark, but Mechanical Man just looked on, making no effort to control it.

Though I was able to walk away without harm, the dog continued to bark. Mechanical Man just laughed.

"Thanks for enjoying my dog,” he shouted to me as I continued down the trail.

I didn’t answer him, and based on what I was thinking, that was just as well.

Finally, a couple things happened late in the afternoon to brightened my day.

First, I met Pippi, whom I hadn’t seen in several days. It was good to catch up with her.

Next, I noticed a small meadow that was viewable through a small gap in the trees.

When I walked over to check it out I saw a mother turkey and her three chicks strolling by.

A short time later I reached a side trail to Leroy A. Smith Shelter. I stopped there to take a short break and refill my water bottles. The stop was much needed and helped me feel somewhat revived.

I still had almost 3.5 miles to go to reach the campsite where Stick and I had agreed to stop. I was grateful that the trail remained flat, and though it was still rocky, was not as difficult.

After I arrived at the camp, Stick told me he had gained two hours on me today. I didn’t need to hear that. It had been a rough enough day as it was.

Instead of complaining about being reminded I am slow, I chose to focus on dinner. The Knorr noodles side dish was much like any other dinner I have eaten on the trail, but I enjoyed it as if it were an elegant meal prepared by a chef.

Some people try to save weight in their backpack by not carrying a stove. They always eat cold meals, but I was never so grateful to have a hot meal as I was at the end of this difficult day.

Who was born in a house full of pain
Who was trained not to spit in the fan
Who was told what to do by the man
Who was broken by trained personnel
Who was fitted with collar and chain
Who was given a pat on the back
Who was breaking away from the pack
Who was only a stranger at home
Who was ground down in the end
Who was found dead on the phone
Who was dragged down by the stone

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