June 1, 1998

6/1/98 Ironmaster's Mansion Hostel

23.2 miles (1076.7 total)

The big question for today was how hot it was going to be. I was going for the shelter 19 miles away, but really wanted to try 22 and make it to the youth hostel in Pine Grove.

Quarry Gap shelters are the nicest I’ve seen. It should be called the Quarry Gap "Hilton" shelter. Someone had put a lot of work into this shelter. Most of the morning had been cool and the trail was still rocky. But as the sun came out the trail just got better. We had miles of trail lined on both sides by mountain laurel, red and white. A breeze blew all day and once we got up on the ridgeline, the hiking was fast. At Birch Run, I met some more section hikers, the most notable was Emily, a 64 year old who has pieced it together up to here in the last couple of years.

Nice shelter with a creek meandering by...

Once Piper and Smiley got there, we decided Pine Grove would be an easy 22. All day I was moving at a breakneck pace. The descent down to Toms Run shelter was very rocky, slowing me down a little. But I kept thinking about the ½ gallon of ice cream.

Made it to the hostel before 5pm, a little tired and feet sore but happy. My luck just isn’t very good though. Last night’s storm had knocked out power in the area. That meant the store, with its ice cream, was closed. The hostel manager was going to let us stay for free, but we couldn’t use the bathrooms or showers because of an electrical septic system. Piper, Smiley and The Brothers decided to tent anyway while I stayed at the hostel. Met a lot more section hikers - Tombstone, Not Yet, Clark, Crinkle Root and her daughter Jabberwalky. Emily and Never Quit were here too. Plus, a group of older guys we met in the Smokies showed up late.

The one neat thing about the hostel was the giant chess board/patio in the yard. Watched Piper and Jabberwalky play for awhile. Because the other guys had left, I was able to yogi some dinner out of Tombstone. Life was almost like a shelter because most of us went to bed when it got dark.