After a mile or so, I hit the open views of Big Bald Mt. After stopping to talk to volunteers trapping, cataloguing, and banding migratory songbirds, I climbed to the top and took a good 15 minutes or so just taking in the view.
After that highlight the day settled into a routine of stopping on the 30s for a drink and a quick break, then stopping on the hours for an obligatory 5-minute "pack off" break and snack - jerky or a little trail mix.
After 10 miles I stopped at a shelter to refill water and have lunch, then decided a nice siesta would be a good idea.
After my break I plodded through the afternoon heat, clicking off the miles as I tackled the biggest climb of the day. The descent from that wound through some breathless woods and I had to fight a case of the blahs, though a flock of wild turkeys livened things up a bit.
Crossing the last road, things picked up as I climbed into cooler woods and smoother trail. Then, about a mile or so from the shelter - Bear Sighting! A mom and 4 cubs about 40 yards away. After I got some pictures with my camera (sorry can't post them from the woods) I barked at them and they turned tail and ran.
So after18.9 miles I'm sharing space with some (slower) middle-aged SOBOs, Brenda, Beth, and Larry (One Stick). Good company. Another big day tomorrow, so I can have an easy descent into Hot Springs on Sunday.