09:31. David and Donna Peterson of Greenbrier, Arkansas
Sunday morning welcomed us with decent skies and temperatures not as low as predicted. We managed to get on the trail just after 8 am looking to cover 13.6 miles to the next shelter. The terrain after that promised no water for six miles and a climb. Gravel Springs Shelter seemed to be the logical goal.
About an hour and a half into the hike dang if I didn’t run into the couple from Arkansas again. This time I had Action and Adventure with me and it turned out that he was the president of some river association in Arkansas and they had run the entire river system there. Whereas he had been quiet while his wife and I talked he now became animated in conversation with A & A. It turned out that their names were David and Donna Peterson. Her trail name is Dance Treker because they dance and teach clogging in Arkansas and he is known as Puzzle Art because of a talent he has in that field. We now all have an invitation to their cabin in the mountains as long as we only ID ourselves by our trail names. They are a young 76.
10:16. Papa Muskrat
Soon after as we were talking this hiker passed us. He had just gotten onto the trail. I noticed that he had “Search and Rescue” embroidered on his shirt sleeve so because I’m so shy I called out to him to find out where he had been involved in rescue. It turned out that it was in Richmond, Virginia and he had spent many of his rescue hours working these trails. We stayed in the same proximity all day simply because we were stopping to talk to a larger number of hikers than normal. We met up again at the last Wayside on The Shenandoah National Park where we loaded up with coffee because the temperature had once again become chilly. We’re gonna miss these Waysides.
14:24. Hogback Overlook toward Bentonville, Virginia
Progress was good and I soon found myself above the Parkway looking down on folks taking in the view. When the woman in the third picture turned around and saw me looking down upon her she just about jumped out of her skin.
“I thought I heard something up there. I was afraid to look.”
“You just found the Appalachian Trail.” I told her.
“I think I’ll just continue doing this in my car!”
17:42. Every Day is a Holiday and Every Meal is a Banquet!
Just prior to reaching the Gravel Springs Shelter we had stopped and were talking to several hikers who were following another trail . It enabled Papa Muskrat to catch up. One of the hikers made a comment about the day. “Every day is a holiday and every meal is a banquet is what my daddy would always say” offered Papa Muskrat. They asked his trail name. “Papa Muskrat!”, he proudly announced, “and my wife is Mama Minx! But she won’t hike!”
Not long after we worked our way down a long downhill side trail of 0.3 miles to Gravel Springs Shelter. Top Chef was there already cooking. It was a reunion of sorts. In the picture from left to right was a hiker who had stopped to eat and then was going to hike another 5 or 6 miles before he camped, Top Chef, The Dude and Papa Muskrat. The good natured harassment was in full gear. We were soon joined by Cajun and his wide Wiesie and then the two women with their dogs. The second one’s dog had given up on the final five miles so she had to carry him into camp.
The Day Had Been a Plus!
In talking with The Dude I realized that I had been hiking ten straight days and tomorrow would be the eleventh. We were about out of supplies and to make matters worse I could feel that my implanted tooth was coming loose. Each day it was just a little more wobbly so much so that it often matched the rest of my head. I needed a dentist. The decision was made…. since A & A we’re meeting the mother of one of Action’s former students in order to enjoy a zero day I would also get off in order to do one of my favorite things……. hang out at a dentist office.
Food, a room in a motel, a shower…… wow! The day after tomorrow I would NOT hike on!