Wow, am I beat. New record: 26.8 miles. Now that I am almost through VA and SNP, I can go ahead and say it. Virginia is not flat. The Shennies are not even flat. I walked up and down a lot today and I’ve walked up and down a lot for the past two and a half months. There are a few flat-ish sections in VA. Just a few.

And now I’m going to complain a bit, so skip this paragraph if you don’t want to hear me whine some more. The SNP is one of the most visited parks in America and it’s not even all that great. The few views there are are not good and they include power lines and cities and roads. Everything looks the same here. There aren’t any awesome rock outcroppings or cool side trails. I think I got spoiled by southern VA and the rural parts of the trail. In the SNP, the trail follows Skyline Drive, so I was listening to traffic much of the time and all the car camping/RV tourists are pretty annoying. Almost all campsites must be paid for and everything is overpriced. I’m having a good time and all, I’m just disappointed with this section of the AT. I want to be in the wilderness, not a city park.

I met Blast and his dog Copper today- nobo thru hikers slack packing the SNP. I stopped at a wayside and got a burger, fries and a milk shake today. I could have done without it, but it was definitely good to eat hot food. Tomorrow night I’ll be out of the park. Gonna do at least 23. I’m coming down with a cold. I blame it on the tourists.

I met an old man today at the Skyland Resort who smoked a pipe and he asked me how I carry my pack all day. I went on to explain that I had no choice but to carry it all day and precisely what I was doing. He just kept repeating “oh, good God, oh, good God” and then he walked away.

I ran into some day hikers and when they asked if I was a thru hiker and I responded in the affirmative, the man exclaimed “Wow! You look good!” in a very surprised tone. And I thought that was a strange thing to say.

And today I saw a bear. Yes, I saw a bear. A great big bear. Oh way up there. Well, no it wasn’t that big. I think it was a female. I saw it a little after eight at night, a couple miles before this shelter. I didn’t stick around long enough to see if she had cubs or how big she really was. I said “hey, bear” and kept walking. It was about 25 feet off the trail behind a bunch of vegetation and a dead tree. Yay! First bear sighting on the AT!


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