Day 5 - Quarry Gap Shelter to campsite
Total distance - 19.9 miles
Time on Trail - 9:50
Average speed - 2 mph
The AT has been described as a "linear community." It's a good description. Bonds form quickly between people traveling the same direction at roughly the same speed. Age doesn't seem to matter. The SOBOs I've met are in their 20s, but take a friendly interest in my daily destination, even encouraging me to travel to the same spots. And it works both ways - I find myself looking forward to seeing familiar faces at the end of the day -- safety in numbers, I guess.
Extended trail "families" have a keen interest in who's ahead and who's behind. Once this was kept track of in shelter registers, but cell phones and texts have taken over a lot of the work. Even after only 5 days on the trail, I have a good idea of the whereabouts of a dozen or so people, and a general idea of when I'll most likely see them again.
Tonight I'm tenting away from my little bubble of hikers. A lovely spot by a creek, marred only by the fact that it's raining steadily outside. Despite a few raindrops I got in nearly 20 miles and even took an hour lunch break and siesta. And I was able to set up and eat dinner before the rain forced me in.
Tomorrow I cross the Mason-Dixon Line and start crossing Maryland. I'm shooting for the Dahlgren Backpackers Campground. Free, right on the trail, and with hot showers. I'm betting I'll meet some people I know there.