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After not too much sleep from the mountain lion encounter last night we woke pretty late. Eli led us in some brief morning yoga. We left camp close to 11 which I felt stressed about. We met a ridge runner about an hour into the hike and told her we saw a mountain lion. She didn't believe us and assured us that they're not in the area. I felt annoyed because I didn't know how to express we were telling the truth but I suppose it didn't matter. She warned us of a timber rattlesnake on the trail. That's why she was out there. To warn others of that. I almost felt like telling her that those weren't out here and she was making it up.
We hiked into the hot of the day and felt had to take a break because it became too hot to move. We lounged a few hours and finally got moving. We took one more break just before dark at a shelter and made dinner so we wouldn't have to once we arrived at the shelter we'd sleep at. We hiked on into the night and switched to our red headlamps because the bugs continued to dart our white lights. I lagged behind because I was told my pace was far too fast for them. I didn't mind it. I would stop and let them get far ahead then hike my usual pace and catch right up.
I've always loved scaring people at night. I've done it with all my siblings. I used to climb into my brother's bed when we were kids. I'd hide under the bulge of blankets he'd kick to the foot of his bed in the morning and wait until he climbed in and then would jump out and scare him. I thought it would be funny to scare Eli and Sarah. I would silently bend down and scoop up a rock and toss it without being noticed in the woods next to us. They'd immediately freeze and say "What was that?" scared that it could be another mountain lion. I continued this for the next couple of hours. I finally admitted it was me once the shelter was in sight. I had such a good laugh but they did not.
We arrived at the shelter around 12:30am. It was a very nice shelter with a deck and multiple floors. Sarah and I had left our sleeping bags in Eli's car so we had no blankets. We soon learned what a mistake it was. Even though the air was hot and sticky I still felt cold. We laid our tents over us as blankets and huddled close to stay warm.
I woke this morning feeling anxious and insecure. I left alone and hiked alone for most of the morning. I tried my best to work through those feelings as I usually did. Hiking allowed enough time to think things through. And the hot, steep climbs, and pushing myself up and over them always gave me a sense of confidence. That helped melt away my anxiety and insecurities.
Sarah met me shortly after I arrived at Jennings Creek. We waited and waited and waited for Eli to come meet us. He finally arrived and we decided it was best to take a zero because Sarah's poison ivy/rashes had worsened significantly. In the mornings all sorts of red dots would appear on her arms and legs.
We swam in the creek and then got a ride to the local campground. We ordered fries and watched "Burn After Reading". We were able to get a ride from Danielle who'd picked us up in Buena Vista. It was so nice of her. She drove us to Daleville and we spent time with her before she headed home. We stayed at the Howard Johnson which only had smoking rooms left. We were stuck with a stuffy room that smelled heavily of cigarettes and had no air conditioning since it was broken. I could barely sleep.
We were able to get a new room with air conditioning and that was smoke free. We mostly slept through the day from exhaustion and lack of sleep in the stuffy room last night. We only left for food. We had frozen yogurt and dinner before crashing early.