The day started with a slow climb. Slow going, but not overly difficult. We were passed by Wilson, who was on a mission to get 18 miles in today. We caught up with him at the bald ledges and we all took some time to enjoy the view.
The weather was very strange today: cold, cloudy, and almost rainy at the summit then summer lower down. We stopped for a bit to eat on some rocks in a sunny spot and were passed by the Professor, Mother Teresa, and Grizzly. Then we passed them later on as we were walking on a board walk toward Forth Mountain Bog. Max, the dog from the shelter last night, appeared behind us and started to follow us, but decided he wanted to stay with the others as we passed them (they had food). I assumed that his owner, Eugene, was close behind him. We would later learn that he was, in fact, not.
After the bog, the trail got very rock and very difficult. Everyone was frustrated by the slow progress. Once again, we were leap-frogged by the others in our hiking group as I was trying to send a text message on the summit of Forth Mountain. Going down Forth Mountain was exceedingly difficult. Very rocky, very steep, very narrow trail. And it was then that Eugene arrived practically running with his gigantic backpack, yelling for Max and asking if we had seen him. We told him that Max had followed the other hikers and I said we would step to the side and let him pass when we found a safe spot. Then we started down the rocks. Clearly not wanting to wait and totally lacking in trail etiquette, Eugene pushed by me on the narrow, steep, rocky descent with his gigantic backpack and almost knocked me head over heels down the path. Luckily, I had my poles firmly planted and my Subaru in front of me and on alert. Nobody was hurt. But I was plenty pissed. I mean, when did Eugene get in cahoots with Maine in the plot to kill me?
We stopped at Chairback Lean-To for second lunch and were confronted by Eugene and Max and another dog owner even crazier than him. Between the two people and the two canines, they were monopolizing 100% of an 8 person shelter. Sub and I were trying to get inside to eat since it by now had started to rain. Neither of the humans seemed to think they should move themselves, their stuff, or their dogs to let us in out of the rain. Finally, I just took matters into my own hands and stepped all over their stuff while pushing my way into the shelter. Not to be a jerk, but I had lost my pack cover and I hadn't practiced putting my trash bag cover on yet.
We spoke to to a ridge runner who told us there were some good stealth camping sites further up trail, but there was no camping for the next two miles, since it was an old growth forest. He also reassured us that the previous 10 mile were the hardest part of the 100 mile wilderness. Thank goodness!
We pushed on another 3 or so miles and found a beautiful camp spot next to a babbling brook. Ate some dinner and fell into a well deserved sleep as the temperatures dropped for a cold night.