A couple miles out of South Wilcox Shelter I ran into a familiar face I hadn't seen for 6 weeks, since central Virginia. We kicked up the trail chatter and hiked the rest of the day together. Seldom do I hike with someone for more then an hour. The destination, Upper Goose Pond an AMC facility.The day included only a few ups and downs through mud and once water floowed trails. Dodging mosquitoes easy with the chilly weather. At one road crossing, trail magic by Mother Hen, cookies and lemonade. Drying out happened the day before, now the trail is drying out with hiker boots.
The last mile is the hardest of each day. A sign said 'Thru-hikers keep to the White Blazes.' Easy enough, I knew the blue blaze would cut 2 miles off our journey. The trail wrapped around a beautiful calm pond, with no jump out places for photos. The final mile came to be with another sign 0.5 miles. Ah.
The cabin rivals any other I've seen and puts some hostels to shame. It's comfortable sized, clean, and well cared for by the AMC. Several hikers already there taking bunks inside and others camping out on the grounds. Stories of the day and other chatter ensued.
One of the last hikers to arrive, Sky Chicken (a helicopter pilot) brought stories and advice of the Whites. I listened with note taking on how to plan a day and what to expect for the weather. Those I hope don't play out to be bad weather and cold nights.
It's hard to think about the ending of the journey being just 550 odd miles away and yet the hardest part being the next section. I hope the miles don't mater to me. I hope the psychological/physical challenges of the Whites don't mess with my head. Every stage of the journeys had issues. What lay a head?
PS I am sleeping in the bunk. The last few night's the cold front on the East Coast is a bit nippy for me.