30 minutes later, after realizing I'd taken the wrong trail out of the shelter in the dim morning light, it was time to retrace my steps back to where I'd started. With an hour lost, It was also time to reevaluate my plans for the day.
Some quick math told me that it could very well be past 8 PM before I got to my original destination, so I punted and decided to scale back to the second shelter ahead, 13.2 miles away.
Since there was no rush, I hiked conservatively, taking the time to collect some Chicken of the Woods https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxonomy_(biology), and take an extended lunch break.
The highlight of the day was the climb over Firescald Bald, with a tough 1.5 mile section of rocky trail and rock scrambling.
From there it was a case of checking off the miles to the shelter. Despite having seen very few people on this trip so far, we've got quite a crew.
At the shelter already were three affable NOBO section hikers, out for 4-5 days; with myself and my trail family from yesterday - Brenda, Beth, and Larry - tenting in the vicinity.
Tomorrow I'll start early and push the 18 to Hot Springs. I should make good time - a hiker's speed is directly related to how close cold beer and a hot shower is!