Day 86 – June 1 – 17.5 miles – Byrds Nest #3 hut to Gravel Springs Hut
1.3 miles into the day we came across a short side trail up to Mary’s Rock. The view from the top was one of my favorite in the Senandoahs. Mary’s Rock seemed to be the only view that didn’t have a parking lot within a few minutes walk. The weather was perfect and we had the place to ourselves.
Two miles after Mary’s Rock we crossed Skyline drive again. I looked over to the side and I saw a sign that said Washing D.C.. Seeing that sign really put our northward progress into perspective.
Several miles later we stopped at the Elkwallow wayside. Zeus and Flashfire were already there sitting at a picnic table. We joined them after buying some food from the food stand.
We wound up spending over 2 hours relaxing there. Over the course of that time we talked to a lot of tourists and met more thru hikers. Two of the thru hikers we met were Mr. shoes and Canalcunut, a father and son team. Mr shoes, the father , was an expat artist living in England. Stoat is pretty knowledgeable in the field at fine art and the two of them hit it off.
We eventauly got moving ad hike the last 6 miles to the Gravel Springs Hut. Less than a mile from the Hut we saw a baby black bear. We made some noise but it didn’t seem to care.
As Stoat and I were walking down a short side trail to the Hut, Zues and Flashfire started calling to us from the hut. For a second we thought they were giving us their end of the day cheer until we heard the words bear. We looked to the right and we saw two bear cubs, and some distance behind them was their momma.
We made our way down to the shelter without a problem.
The momma bear was about a hundred feet away and kept trying to come towards the shelter. Every time she moved forward we wound make noise. She would step back for a minute or two and then try again. This went on for a least 45 minutes until momma bear and cubs decided to move on.
Stoat hung his hammock near some other campers while I wussed out and setup in the shelter