Day 4: 

In light of last night’s dinner follies, I have decided to give myself the trail name “checklist” because anyone who knows me knows that I survive on lists, and I have since made both a morning and an evening list to potentially avoid walking all over creation after having just walked all over creation.

Woke up at 5:20a again and looked at the guthook app trying to plan out my arrival in cascade for a mail drop. Around 6, I crawled out into a fine mist and made myself breakfast (thank you, checklist, I did not have to walk back up the hill to make coffee this morning).

It was a misty morning with a steady drizzle. Spider webs laden with water droplets were scattered throughout the woods. After forcing down the last of my breakfast (it’s still too big for my level of hunger), I headed back up the blasted hill to pack up my tent. After putting my sleeping pad and bag away, I couldn’t find the stuff sack for my tent. I gave the perimeter a quick sweep because I remembered tossing it on the ground to pitch last night. I didn’t look for very long because the longer I looked, the wetter my tent was going to get, thus the heavier it would be to carry. So I pulled out a spare green garbage bag and used that to house the rolled up muddy mess of a tent. Then I went back down the house filter more water because I used so much during breakfast. Some day it won’t take me forever to leave camp. As I situated my pack, I reached into my side pocket to adjust my water bottle and what did I find? My tent stuff sack. Nothing to do but laugh (and adjust the checklist). 

As I walked through a light drizzle, I listened to a bit of music and watched the dusky outlines of birds pass over the trail. Sometime mid morning I passed a group of older individuals heading the opposite direction. As I went by, one of them asked where I was headed. I said, “I don’t remember! north” That drew a hearty chuckle from a couple of them.  

Overall it was another day of moderate terrain with rocky ups and downs on which I tried my best to land with a flat foot to give my arches a rest. I’m really bad at using both poles during especially rocky sections, so I’ve taken to just using one so that I pay more attention to where my foot goes rather than where my pool goes. 

I stopped at the dahlgren campground bathrooms for a lunch of pb honey sandwich with chips and part of a chocolate peanut butter bar. 

These bathrooms are right on the trail and there’s a water pump just up the hill, which made for a happy accident all around. The young woman from last night rolled in as I was eating chips like a tired zombie. We talked for a bit while she warmed up water for one of those Starbucks latte concoctions. Then I moved on, certain she would pass me, but she never did, that I could tell. I ran into frontpocket sometime around 2. We shared a quick hello and I hiked on to the Washington monument where I met Paul, an avid birder recording the migrating bird of prey. He had a stack of small squares of paper bundled together with a rubber band and a clipboard. He was at the top of the tower (giant steps and tired quads don’t mix), and he started talking a mile a minute before i even said hello. Here’s Paul and the view from the top of the monument (into Cumberland valley): 

As you can see, the sun finally came out! It then stayed out as I walked through sparsely leafed trees and up a gigantic rocky hill to get to my campsite at annapolis rocks. I thought for certain the spur trail would be at the top of this: 

But when I checked my gps in guthook, I had over a mile to go. It reminded me of that time charrow and I hiked straight up for two hours to get to lake Marian, an amazing hanging lake in the fiord lands national park. Everyone we passed on our way down asked “is it worth it??” I wanted to ask all the day hiker couples holding hands on their way down if annapolis rocks was worth it. But I didn’t have a choice. There’s no way I was going to backtrack to pine knob shelter. So I did what I do in marathons, which is talk to myself (“you’re not hurt, you’re just tired. just keep moving” etc) and try to loosen my limbs rather than tense them in an attempt to brace against the effort. After day dreaming about laying down in the middle of the trail, I FINALLY reached the turn off for Annapolis rocks. The campground has a great moldering/composting privy and at least one bear pole, but man is it effing hilly and the campsites are rocky and slanted. I grabbed a flat, but horrribly rocky spot in a group site because I figured the likelihood of a group coming in was low and it’s right next to the spring and the privy. 

Then I suffered through the task of filtering water, which was a mistake because by the time I did that, I was inconsolably hungry. But my dinner was good. Homemade dehydrated adobo black beans with babybel cheese and half a snickers. I can’t eat the whole thing yet. The sugar makes me nauseated. Then I finished setting up my bed, and walked over to the rocks in time for this view:

Now I’m laying in my tent trying not to think about bears and hoping that the thunder I hear doesn’t materialize into a windy downpour. 

Mile 1034.1 to mile 1048.3 

Creature feature: another day of mostly birds. Hard thwacking woodpeckers. Soft searching taps of a different kind of woodpecker. Hopping white breasted nut hatches. Dopey robins. A flashy blue jay. 


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