Miles Hiked: 16.0
Miles Left: 1673.9
Ending Location: Hurricane Mountain Shelter
Well I started the morning out by hugging a wild pony so my day was basically awesome.
A pregnant mare had somehow figured out how to make it into the shelter area and was being very sweet with everyone. She did love licking the salt off people’s legs though so I was glad I had long pants on. She wasn’t the only pony I saw but she was the only one I petted as we passed through a herd of them later on. As for the hiking, we spent most of the day walking along the Grayson Highlands which had a very Colorado feel with exposed rock boulders and lots of plains. There was also a cool “cave” we passed through called Fatman’s Squeeze which was interesting to navigate with my pack on. Reading the history of the place, apparently it used to be a major cattle farming area before the forest service bought it up. Realizing that they couldn’t keep the balds tree free without grazing animals they decided to introduce ponies in the 1960s figuring that would keep vegetation down and attract tourists. They were right. I mean, who doesn’t like ponies?!
The other accomplishment today was Owl and I have now officially hiked over 500 miles of the AT! The milestone occurred just before Wise shelter so a bunch of other hikers and us stopped there for a bit to celebrate. The trail maintainers really need to put up a sign to mark mile 500 as that would make a great photo. Also, if you are doing the math, don’t worry that we’ve used 33% of our time to hike 25% of the trail. Our plan was always to start slow. Heck, we used to consider a 9 mile day a stretch. With 16 miles being the new “normal” for us we’re still on schedule to finish up in six months.
We ended the day at Hurricane shelter. There was no tent sites around it but Owl set his up right by the picnic table while I just crashed in the shelter itself. It was a brand new shelter built last year so it was nice but the mice haven’t wasted any time moving in. I had to chase a couple away from my food bag while I was having dinner and they were scurrying all over throughout the night.