Left at 9am after breakfast. 18 miles to go today. Caught up with Shutterbug & Smiles, they have been hiking together for a few days. Saw Jeremiah, too...pretty impressive since he was partying pretty hard at the mexican restaurant yesterday. We ate a snack at the first shelter, where a group of college kids had spent the night on the first night of their section hike. They had a huge tent that must have weighed 30 pounds, gallon jugs of water, and one kid even had a trumpet.
Soon after morning break we came to a fast moving creek with no footbridge and no big rocks to hop across. This marks the first time I've had to take off my shoes to cross a stream! It is a real pain to take shoes off/cross creek/dry feet/put shoes back on, so I'm glad I don't have to do it very often. The water was really cold but I managed not to fall in. There were a couple other creek crossings later that day, but one had rocks strategically placed across it, and the other I was able to go upstream and walk across a fallen branch. The streams are full of water because of all the rain we've had recently - there are even streams where nothing is marked in the AT Guide - nice to have water so readily available.
Saw a huge black snake slithering across the trail. It was long - probably 5 feet or so - and I gave a little yelp when I saw it. It's so surprising to see movement on the trail just a few feet from where my feet are. But I'm glad it wasn't a rattlesnake - I've been paranoid about seeing one ever since Greyhound saw a very large rattlesnake on the trail.
Started to feel like rain about 2pm, and I heard thunder about 2:30. I knew I was pretty close to the 2nd shelter so picked up my pace to get there. Literally seconds before the bottom dropped out of the sky, I reached the shelter. Jeremiah, Shutterbug, Smiles, Owl, and Phoenix are all here, waiting for the storm to pass. The storm lasted about 90 minutes, and when it was over we decided to just spend the night here. It was too late after the storm to hike another 7.4 miles to the next shelter (and we'd get there too late to have a spot in the shelter). Plus my knee has been hurting all day and locked up a few times today.
People poured into the shelter, everyone is getting back on the trail after Trail Days. M80 & Trooper are here, so is Big Yankee, Roughneck, Tahlal, lots of others. Jeremiah decided to move on, so did Rainbow Braid, Finder, and a couple others.