Mile: 1082.6 - 1107.4 (24.8 miles)
The rain starts in the early morning hours, a steady patter; I pull my shoes into the tent and try to fall back asleep. At 6 it's still a steady rain and I have to decide what to do.
While there weren't any no camping signs and I'm pretty sure I'm outside of park boundaries I'm also guessing it isn't exactly encouraged given the giant wear orange hunting is legal here signs. I'm getting wet today anyway so off I go.
The climb up to the ridge is mellow, the rain steady but not torrential. When I get to the first shelter I'm met with hanging flower baskets and a lovely spring. Plus the rain is more mist now and it's my favorite quiet kind of morning. I feel all alone in the woods and it's great start.
It's getting sunnier and the trail seems to be going through forest mood swings. Giant shrubs, old wide fire roads, and big wide meadows along with pine, ferns and a million trees I don't recognize.
Rounding a corner I find two guys doing trail magic. Twins, one of whom hiked last year and pulled off onto this dirt road right before the halfway point on a whim today.
And then I'm officially halfway done with the AT. The sign is a picture of a big marker that someone made at home some years ago. I guess they move the sign each year to reflect the official halfway mile marker, and it's sized for tall people. Woohoo!
It's easy fire road walking all the way to Pine Grove Furnace and it's ice cream, burgers and the AT museum. Plus on the way the trail passes the fancy old halfway sign.
Right before the store I walk straight past this guy. It isn't until I've passed that I even hear the rattle. I guess it's still timber rattler country.
The AT museum is in this cool old stone building.
Because apparently there was a successful cat hiker.
One of the original shelters
I kill a few hours at the store with Rest Stop. There are a ton of hikers at the store but they aren't very chatty and are mostly just loud and obnoxious. But after they leave we make friends with the cooks and kill some good time finding out about them and the area. A much nicer mellow end to the evening.
Heading out it's more rain and easy old fire road. I'm tired and pull up sooner than I wanted in the wet. Tomorrow is the town of Boiling Springs and another AT office and convenience store. The frequent town stops are still strange but are definitely spoiling me.
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