Friday Sept 17th, 2021, 0600-1845
Darlington Shelter to near James Fry Shelter, SOBO AT mm 1081.1
3117 gain, 3625 loss
Despite many miles and several long stops, this was another pretty easy day. I slept great in the shelter and was off to a good start in the morning. It was all downhill into the valley, where we walked about 14 miles through rolling farmland. Soybeans and cow corn were our constant companions. We stopped at a Quaker family farm stand to buy home-made root beer, which was fun. This section is known for being very hot and exposed, but it was overcast all day, sparing us from the burning sun. It was still pretty hot and muggy, though. Numerous day hikers and runners were out enjoying the trail. It was nice to see all the smiling faces.
We arrived the quaint little town of Boiling Springs just in time for an early lunch. I got a burrito that was very delicious. My pocketbook’s feeling the weight of all these restaurant purchases but it’s good to get so many calories. I’d go to a grocery if that were an option, but it rarely is. After, I tried my luck with catching one of the many domestic geese by the lake, to no avail. They ate birdseed from my hand but were onto me about getting too close. There were mansions and old stone cottages lining the lake, like a scene from rural England. The town appears to be a tourist destination but we didn’t stay long to really check it out.
After town, the trail climbed back into the hills, going over a series of about 4 bumps. The trail was pretty graded and nothing felt very strenuous. The last had some nice rock outcrops that the trail wound through. We had to jump down from a few rocks but it was fun. I stopped at a creek for water and to soak. It always feels so good to wash off the sticky sweat near the end of the day. But my clothes still smell pretty ripe after I air dry.
There was a general store along the way, just in time for dinner. I got a sub and some provisions to hopefully last until I get to Harpers Ferry. The options in the store were very limited, so luckily I was still carrying too much food from the previous segments. A shelter was less than a mile after the store, our planned destination for the night. The mosquitoes had been terrible as I ate my sub outside the store, so I didn’t have high hopes for the shelter. There were 2 guys already there and I suspected they were both snorers. This sealed the deal for my tent. But all the tentsites near the shelter were slanted, so I just went back to the main trail to find a spot by a creek. It was a gamble to be less than half a mile from a road on a Friday night, not something I liked. I disliked being out with the skeeters even more, so I went immediately into my tent, disgruntled about being confined there for yet another evening. I needed to do things like stretching and rolling but the bugs and poison ivy surrounding the area made this impossible. Oh well, at least my belly was full.