(Daily Mi: 10.0) Very rocky trail today -- can't see how PA could be much worse. My right knee is pretty beat up. The thru-hikers all set out for a shelter 27 miles on today. Must be nice.
Had debated heading for a campsite at a state park 11 miles on, but the skies were very dark all day and the rain conveniently started just as I hit the side trail to the shelter at 4 pm. Older shelter (circ. 1941) with a very cramped sleeping space. Nice setting though. There's a big deck out front and a loveseat swingset. Piper and Bill were in with me again. It rained off and on. We sat out on the deck when it was off, rolled cigarettes and chatted.
Bill turns out to be a novice Jesuit priest and is hiking 40 odd miles as a form of pilgrimage. He is learning to rely on Providence. He has not and may not use any of his own pre-existing resources in the course of his journey. All of his equipment and food (mostly heavy cans) were donated by friends and colleagues (as was his bus ticket to the Trail). His stove is a thirty year old brass Primus donated by a friend. We were making fun of it last night. And it is in fact a comical and dangerous thing. Two more hikers, Rocky and Thor (and Rocky's pooch Moose), passed through at about 7 pm soaking with rain. They sat and chatted a bit. Then after a debate and deciding they were already wet, they strapped on their headlamps and pressed on to the state park and campground (which boasted hot showers).