10-21-12

Days since my thruhike began: 186
AT miles hiked today: 9.5
Total AT miles hiked: 1685.0
Miles to complete my thruhike: 499.2

I'm sleeping in Birch Run Shelter. I've got a bottom bunk again, with my tent wrapped around it to make a wall around my sleeping area. We hiked with Trail Angel Scott today, and passed the official midpoint of the AT, marked with a sign and accompanied by a register. Somebody took pictures of us, not that it was my own midpoint, which was nearly at the top of Saddleback Junior in Maine, but it was still a meaningful place on the trail.

We met Dogger not long before we all arrived at this shelter. I recognized him because he wears a kilt and has a tri-color beard. I had met him in Maine! I think it was on one of the Bald Pate mountains. He has a great laugh, and a funny/crude tattoo of a bear on his leg that he says his wife doesn't like.

This is a nice shelter that even has a picnic table under the porch roof. It also has a bear pole, which is new to me. It looks like a very tall coat rack, with a two pronged pole chained and hung on it. You are supposed to hang your food bag on the pole, then lift it up ten feet or more above your head and slip your food bag over one of the hooks up top. I'm not very good at this method. I'm sure it was entertaining watching me stagger back and forth holding the end of the long pole on my thigh as my heavy food bag swung the top of the pole everywhere but where I tried to direct it. It took several attempts and I dropped the pole and my food bag once, but I finally caught the loop of the bag over the hook and the pole came down empty. Phew. That was hard.

Today I saw lots of hikers wearing orange. That's good. I've been hearing gunshots all around me since New York. Wearing blaze orange does make me feel a bit safer. It's strange to me that the AT shares a border with hunting lands in many places. That just doesn't seem like a good idea.