Days since my thruhike began: 232
AT miles hiked today: 16.4
Total AT miles hiked: 2134.5
Miles to complete my thruhike: 49.7

I've set up my tent in the Rice Field Shelter tonight, for my last night sleeping on the trail. It's raining lightly outside, and the stone shelter is a good wind block. It felt warm when I climbed into the shelter, just from being out of the direct wind, but we hung tarps as wind blocks and they rustled and blew, showing there still was wind blowing into the shelter. It's up on a bald, which I could tell even in the dark, and that means nothing blocks the wind up here except this building.

I got up late this morning after staying up so late last night. Eagle Eye and I left the shelter at 10:30am. There were dozens of blowdowns and the trail was poorly marked. The trail needs some care down there. We barely hiked three miles before getting to "The Captain's" place. We hasn't meant to go there, but we both were curious and it was lunch time, so we used the zipline to get us and our packs across the river one at a time. We ate our lunch on the covered porch, enjoyed a cold soda and played fetch with the dogs. The Captain is awesome for making his place available to hikers to camp and hang out. Thank you!

I bypassed the next shelter even though it was just off the trail and I could see it had nice stone walls. I was tempted to check out the register, but didn't stop because it would increase the time I'd have to hike in the dark tonight. As I huffed up the hill I looked up and was surprised to see a tall man in camo coming silently down the hill. He had a crossbow on his back. We said hello and both kept going.

The trail was nice this afternoon and after dark it went up a big bald that had a camping area, but no water. Even in the dark this area looked beautiful and I would love to come back in daylight. We did find the spot that was supposed to have a spring, but it was just a muddy hole. I knew I could dig out a hole and let it fill with water and let the mud settle, but we decided to go on to the shelter and hope the water there was better. While night hiking in the freezing wind and rain I saw the city lights from the bald. The lights were so pretty that I turned off my headlamp just to see them better. Then I turned it back on and hurried up the hill because it was so cold. Some of the moisture in the air seemed like snow and I hoped it would snow, but it just started raining heavier. We didn't want to go for water, so we used just enough for ramen and went to bed. We will get it in the morning down the trail.

I taped moleskin over my blisters and they hardly hurt today, but they look nasty and soggy tonight. I think they will callous, but I will finish my hike before they do. Tonight is my last night sleeping out on the trail. We hike into Woods Hole Hostel tomorrow night and then Nigel will meet us the night after that to slackpack us for my last day.

My trekking poles have worn down again to rounded little plastic nubs, and they keep slipping out from under me while I hike. A couple times they have even shot out of my hand back down the hill because the strap wasn't on my wrist. They won't hold up my tent much longer either because worn down like that they slip out of the pvc pipe that holds everything together, so it's good that I don't need to use the tent after tonight.

I finally have cell service! It's been days since I could make a call or send a text. Without a phone it's hard to make plans for the party, or decide when and how to get to an airport to get home, or do any other planning with the outside world for my last few days on the trail. But it's after 11pm and too late to call anybody anyway. It's hard for me to believe that my thruhike is almost over. I have relief about that, and I know my body needs some TLC, but I am sad, too. I've been thinking about what happens after this, with only vague ideas and no clear direction. I think I will turn this blog into a book and see how the pictures turned out. I think I got some good ones with my five pound camera.