Wednesday, July 19, 2017 (Day 77)
I rose at a reasonable hour and felt hopeful for the day. The site I had chosen was beautiful at day break. I was back on trail. All was well.
I crossed in to Maryland. This was pleasing. It was hot, and the climbing was somewhat strenuous. It was not terribly difficult, but with the heat, I grew very thirsty. The next water was at a shelter approximately six miles from where I had camped. Not bad. Then I realized that the water was situated .4 of a mile downhill from that shelter. The next reliable water source, following this one, was in an additional 3.7 miles. I chose thirst over the additional .8 mile side-trek the water would demand. I would go to Gathland State Park. At the park I would find potable water and restrooms and outlets.
In the interim: jolly ranchers. I had snagged them from a hiker-box along the way. I sucked on them furiously. They distracted me with their fruity flavor. They kept my tongue from turning scratchy.
I arrived at the park thirsty, with a plastic pink sugary after-taste on my breath. I collected water and sprawled my things out on a bench. I sat and drank.
A lady came walking up from the parking lot. She was kind and inquisitive. “Are you thru-hiking?” she asked. I nodded. “Congratulations on making it this far!” , she smiled. She told me that she had a little bit of trail magic, and that I should meet her in the parking lot.
I put away my things and propped up my pack, pocketed my valuables, and joined her in her air-condition car in the parking lot. She offered me fresh fruit and crackers and engaging conversation. Oh, what a lovely encounter!
I returned to the trail. I came to the junction of the Rocky Run Shelter . I dropped my things and took the side trail to collect water. I returned and unfolded my mat. I had positioned myself within a rather small, rectangular bare patch. It was hardly off trail.
I had intended to cook something. Once I sat down, part of me knew I would not be rising again that night.