Free State Hiker Hostel to Rocky Run Shelter
Approximately 16.5 miles hiking
We woke up warm and cozy inside the bunk room at the Free State Hiker Hostel. We bought some pop tarts for breakfast and ate quickly before heading outside to hike. It was chilly when we started out but we warmed up quickly as it was an uphill hike back to the trail. Our spirits were high and the sun was shining- it looked to be a great day! We got into a good hiking groove and just started piling up the miles. There is much to see along this section so time was passing quickly and before we knew it, it was time for lunch. When backpacking we have a few staples that we always include for lunch to give us quick dense energy. We always have peanut and almond butter to eat with bread, tortillas or crackers, dried fruit and cheese to eat with pepperoni. I try to ration out cookies or small candy bars to have as well. These things can all last for several days on the trail if stored properly and are a quick and satisfying lunch. We hiked along stopping to take in the amazing view on Annapolis Rock.
Like I said, there were many cool landmarks on this section of the trail so we were really enjoying our day and all there was to see. It didn’t hurt that the weather was warm and clear. Crossing I-70 through the tunnel on the trail and hearing the traffic zooming by under us after being in the quiet woods all morning was exciting. We also enjoyed seeing the original Washington Monument built in the early 1800’s which was undergoing renovation. We were still able to climb to the top for an amazing view.
Old South Mountain Inn
We knew from the guidebook that there would be a road crossing coming up where there was a restaurant, The Old South Mountain Inn. Our plan was to hike there to eat dinner and possibly camp at the nearby free Dahlgren Campground where there are bathrooms with running water. When we arrived at the campground, we washed up in the bathroom and then headed toward the restaurant. We felt a little apprehensive about going in since we had been in the woods all day and it seemed a little bit fancy but decided to go for it. No one knew us around here and even if they did they probably wouldn’t care anyway! Stowing our packs behind a wall, we headed in for an early dinner which we all thoroughly enjoyed. It was pretty pricey though!
After such a great meal we decided we would continue on the trail to the Rocky Run shelter a couple miles away. By the time we made it there we were beat. It had been over a 16 mile day! Our fatigue showed as Dave and I set up camp. I was sulking because I wanted to sleep in the shelter, but Dave wanted to set up the tents since others were already there. I basically crawled in the tent and went to bed. If you were the people at the shelter that night, I apologize! I know I was a brat. We all fell into the good sleep that exercise and good food gives you. Other than my temper tantrum, it had been another great day on the trail.