We planned to do about 17 miles today and I left camp around 8:15 feeling good. I knew the elevation changes today weren't anything drastic and I also knew I would be on the same section of trail I hiked last fall! When I got to my first white blaze (as Pappy said, "this was where it began, huh?"), a wave of emotion washed over me. Here I was 7 months later passing by this same spot on my thru hike that I was so unsure of last fall. But curiosity trumped uncertainty and I'm thankful every day that I took the leap. Pappy took my picture with the white blaze to reenact the photo I got before and we continued on our away. The trail up to Mount Rogers was shorter and easier than I remembered (I'm in such better shape!) but just as rocky. I didn't go to the summit but stopped and looked around at some of the places I'd seen before. Pretty neat. I met up with Pappy, Veto, and Fiber at Thomas Knob Shelter for a quick break and we continued through the Grayson Highlands among the gorgeous views, gorgeous weather, and "wild" ponies! We saw a group of ponies after we came down over a ridge. Red Eagle and Tenderfoot were there as well and a few of the ponies came right up to us. We petted them, they licked us, we took pictures...very cool! There was a baby as well, probably born within the past few weeks!
We continued along the rocky, rocky trail (read: sore feet) to Wise Shelter, and a pony was just hanging out around the shelter! A funny scene to see a pony in camp. We heard from another hiker that the weather was supposed to turn bad late afternoon and overnight so we decided to stay here even though we only did about 11 miles today.
Since it was supposed to rain, I hung my bear line early to avoid prolonged exposure when I hung the bag. The limb I used felt pretty strong so I wasn't too concerned. The rain started around 5 and Veto and I went out around 7 when it let up a bit. I started hoisting my bag, heard a crack, and the entire limb came down on top of me! Two in one day...seriously? Veto heard the crash and since the rain had picked up offered to hang my bag on his line to save time...it's heavy with two enormous food bags so hopefully it will hold!
It's been raining through the evening and it's getting colder...low around 40 tonight. I'm inside with Tenderfoot, Red Eagle, 3rd Life Crisis, Veto, Pappy, and a section hiking couple. Several people are tenting outside as well. It's been another great day...the trail was beautiful and seeing the ponies was awesome!
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