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[at-l] READY's journal: June 16 Saturday TD 11 part 1

>The day started early for us.  'Up at 6:45.  When we awakened, we saw that 
>our numbers at the shelter site had swelled to around 13 or 14 with the 
>arrival of 3 young hikers who'd come in around midnight.
>The 3 hikers were sprawled out in front of the entrance to the shelter, 
>just under the eaves. Apparently they had been fearful that actually 
>comimng into the shelter itself would be disruptive to us at their late 
>hour of arrival.
>We were on the Trail by 8:00, our earliest start, so far. The plan was to 
>get in about 12 miles, being cautious with my new hiking shoes. As we 
>hiked, it was evident to me that my new shoes were going to be a 
>success.  We hiked strong. Little did I know!
>We stopped twice for breaks.  At the Manasas Shelter, just some 5 miles 
>down the trail, we stopped for water and to soak my right foot.  I read an 
>entry in the hiker log book warning hikers about the copperhead snake that 
>"lived just behind the fire place; do not approach!"
>I walked around the fire grill to see if I could detect the snake behind 
>the fireplace, some 6 feet away. As I did so, my eyes focused on a 
>copperhead snake just behind the grill at my feet. Spur took some pictures 
>as we admired the snake's beauty.
>We sat at the shelter picnic table, my  foot elevated, reading he shelter 
>log.  We decided to walk on another 5 miles before eating lunch.  As we 
>were prepaing to leave the shelter, Blowing Sunshine arrived to eat his 
>lunch.  We chatted briefly and then moved on.
>The trail was wet from all the rain, courtesy of [Hurricane] Allison. In 
>some places, I had to be really careful with my footing; roots and rocks, 
>as well as bog boards and wooden bridges can be really slick after a rain.
>It was an amazing experience to hike this section of trail.  There were 
>many vines hanging over the trail, dripping water from all the rain. 
>Everything seemed more lush and verdant from the moisture which clung 
>everywhere and hung in the air. The sweet aroma of the honeysuckle mixed 
>with mud and wet foliage made me think of a jungle. This was  especially 
>the case whenever it became overcast during the day.  The darkened woods 
>were punctuated by the sounds of squawking birds. Wonderful.
>Our next stop was for lunch at the Dick's Dome Shelter.  What a crazy 
>space!  It was an interesting design, but we both questioned the efficacy 
>of such an awkward floorplan.  This bizarre looking shelter could probably 
>only sleep four hikers with any measure of comfort.
>As we were about to eat lunch, a hiking club (the Center Hiking Club) 
>arrived.  They were a delightful group of people. They showed great 
>interest in our endeavor. One member, previously from Atlanta, gave us two 
>slices of her sandwich - goat cheese and another type of exotic cheese on 
>a deliious, coarse grain bread.  Absolutely heavenly!
>Another hiker in the group, a young Korean woman, was very interesed in 
>learning about Spur's journal. They were on a rigid schedule it seemed, 
>and their leader had them back onto the trail after only 30 minutes, or 
>so.  We left shortly after they did.
>I felt strong and urged Spur to consider hiking on to the next shelter, 
>some 9 miles further, instead of stopping, as planned, to find a tent 
>site  in the next several miles.
>After some convincing that my foot was indeed up to the task, we agreed to 
>proceed.  The terrain here was again easy,there were very few climbs, and 
>the rocks and roots sections were short and manageable.
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