The huge news of today is that the weather brought a cool front! Yay! So happy about this, I can not tell you how much! Makes the hiking so much easier! We got up early so we could catch a ride back to the trail, which was now 7 miles to the south. Luckily, the office was going to store our packs today so we could hike all day without them if we wanted.
We took our packs to the office, brought just the essentials, and asked a nice man out front if he was headed south. Turns out, he was going home to Florida and was happy to drop us off. A few minutes later, we were on the trail, and for the next 3 hours, we flew! We covered 9 miles before 11:00. It was so much easier without the packs!
The weather was perfect - 49 degrees when he let us off, and it got cooler and windier as the day went on - perfect for hiking. We reached the lodge, put on our Crocs for lunch, and a nice lady at the lodge overheard that we were wanting to eat lunch at the wayside. She offered to take us. We went down there, which was maybe 5 minutes away, and had a great lunch. She was eating with a friend, and gave us a ride back. We would have loved to chat with her longer. She's been coming since the 60's to Big Meadow, and she said the place had not changed at all - it was like a snapshot in time.
When we got back to the lodge, we got the packs and began hiking north, and it was 8 miles to the next lodge, Skyland. It was still so cool and windy, that it went by fairly fast. We passed a lot of day hikers on this trail. The trail followed the edge of the mountains, and had a great view to the west the whole way.
We finally reached Skyland just in time for one of the trail rides to pass in front of us by the stables. We went on to the dining room and had a great dinner. Swamprat inquired at the office to see if they might discount a room this late in the day if it wasn't filled, and they offered him one at 50% off. We decided to go for it. It's supposed to be pretty chilly tonight, and no one really wants to sleep cold.
- Steady and F100