Day 10: Saturday, August 23

Tenting in the Brink Road Shelter (AT SOBO mi 870.9) like a motherfucking boss, walked 19.6 miles today

Woke up late with Smiley already long gone, aiming for a 30-miler, and didn't end up getting on the road til about 8:30. Soon got a look at High Point, the highest point in New Jersey, with some sort of Washington Monument-esque shelter on top of it, then started to descend to lower elevation before supplemental oxygen was required. As promised, the number and density of rocks on and in the trail increased dramatically south of High Point. Things came to a head when I rolled my right ankle worse than ever before, and there have been many times ... Thought I felt a little twinge or pop, sat on it for ten minutes and was able to continue, though for the rest of the day if I took a break off my feet for more than a minute it was stiff getting started again.

Stopped at a shelter for lunch, meeting a NOBO thru-hiker, surely one of the last, who talked to me in particular a lot about his career as a newspaper reporter. Since the morning, Princess and I had been eyeing the Dairy Queen in Branchville, NJ as a late-afternoon stop, so that became the focal point of the next eight miles or so. Branchville and its environs turned out to be among the least attractive town areas around the AT--I was trying to think of more charitable ways to describe it that didn't use the term "redneck," "trailer trash," or "wow this part of Jersey looks like absolute shit," but I failed, so there you go. Nonetheless, the Dairy Queen was a Dairy Queen, a large Oreo Blizzard is still a large Oreo Blizzard, and we hitched in and out easily thanks to local heroes Wendy and Julia, respectively.

It was very gray and threatening rain upon our return to the woods, and it wasn't very warm, so all that Dairy Queen was actually making us shiver, but the three remaining miles to the shelter warmed us back up and it never actually rained. Encountered a copperhead snake in the middle of the trail once Princess had stepped over it without even noticing. The shelter turned out to be an absolute palace in the woods, rebuilt only last year according to Princess' rather more recent guidebook. It also has plenty of flying insect life, and we were the only ones here, so we decided to pitch our tents inside, that most indulgent of camping experiences. 

Some real toolboxes, who sound like they're from Boston, showed up well after dark, having walked the 25 miles north from Delaware Water Gap, and crashed the shelter--they're still awake talking right now as I type this and one just called his mother for about ten minutes on his cell phone, literally three feet from me. So it won't be as peaceful a night as planned, but we'll give them a little turnabout by waking up at six and being as loud as possible on the way out.

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