I had a great birthday hike on the A.T.! Powder River, Cooper and I drove down to Front Royal the day after my birthday and hiked to the Jim and Molley Denton Shelter from Manassas Gap, VA 55. A nice 3 mi hike and a little history. The Manassas Gap rail line, which we crossed over, was used by Confederate troops in the battle of Manassas, also known as the Battle of Bull Run. The Denton Shelter is pretty fancy, with a huge front porch, Adirondack style bench, a separate open shelter for cooking, and complete with tons of stink bugs! So we pitched the tent! That night Cooper lost a growth on his face that we had been praying over for about a week! It was a divine run-in with a vine or branch. On Friday morning, Powder River walked alone back to the car and I continued South to Rt. 522, (5 mi) where he picked us up and we headed for the Apple House. It's a really great spot for BBQ and fresh pork rinds. Cooper and I re-supplied to hit the trail for the next two days while Powder went to work.
Coop and I had a great time meeting a handful of Sobos. We met a group of three guys traveling together who seem quiet on track to finish up at Springer by Thanksgiving. We had fun hanging out with Slim (PA->Springer) and Warren (Southern PA->Front Royal) at the Dick's Dome Shelter Friday night (Manassas Gap ->Dick's Dome: 7mi). Slim shared with us some Paw Paws he had found that day. A pretty interesting native fruit I had never tried before. Kinda like a cross between a pear and banana. The next day we saw Handyman, Cake and Boulderdasher on the trail in Sky Meadows State Park.
My longest mileage day with Cooper was 15 mi on Saturday from Dick's Dome to Sam Moore Shelter, thru the first 5 peaks of the "Roller Coaster," a 13mi section with about 13 peaks. Cooper was already pretty tired from the first couple of days. He's only 2 years old and still learning how to conserve energy... And he was starting to firgure out how to take it easy. Cooper really lucked out on this hike because he (we think purposely) "forgot" his pack at home. Lucky dog.
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