July 10.  The plan was to wake up early and get into Andover by 8:30 when the post office opened…but after the 26 mile, 15 hour hike yesterday it was much easier to sleep in!  Last night when I crawled in my tent I heard something moving around outside, but I was too tired to worry about it.  I wondered about our food bags…since I started hiking with Rafiki I have not used my rope to hang a bear bag.  Rafiki has instead hung his food bag on a nearby tree branch the whole trail, so I have started to do the same.  The first night together I did hang a bear line, but since then we have been hiking so late into the night, or in the Whites, that I haven’t done it again.  Anyways, I had heard the noise and Rafiki did too.  I heard him unzip his tent and he said “Whoa, there is a bobcat out here!”  I wasn’t sure about it…then I heard more thumping and he said “Nevermind, it is a few jackrabbits running around our tents.”  Much better!  The guys staying in the shelter woke up around 6 AM and started talking really loud…another great morning to wake up to in a shelter area!  Rafiki and I finally got moving around 7 and hit the trail by 8.  Moody Mountain was one heck of a climb…1,000 feet straight up!  We called a hostel in Andover from the top and they met us at the road at the bottom 45 minutes later.  The 10 mile drive into town was down a small mountain road and we got dropped off at the post office for Rafiki’s package.  We walked down to the general store and I picked up a food resupply and milk.  After packing our bags we headed across the street to the Little Red Hen for lunch.  It was a nice small town diner.  I ordered a coke and a BBQ bacon cheeseburger.  The soda is poured out of a can into a cup, the food made fresh, and I heard her offer everyone some fresh baked home made cookies for dessert!  They were playing good country music and I felt like I could sit there all day!  The longer we sat the more I could feel the pain in my knees.  Even just sitting still they ached, not a good sign…but less than 250 miles to go!  We turned down some of the fresh made cookies…it was time to get back to the trail.  First though we crossed the street and got ice cream from the market.  As we sat and discussed the plans we knew we wouldn’t get the miles in we had wanted to today…we decided we would just hike until 7 PM and call it a day.  I decided I had to stop thinking about miles in this terrain and just think time…wake up and hike all day…enjoy towns like we were today.  An Eric Church song came on the radio so I jumped online and downloaded the album “Chief” to my phone so I could listen to it on the trail.  Our ride picked us up and he drove us back to the trailhead.  We were hiking again around 3:30 PM after a nice 4 hour town stop.  The climb up Old Blue Mountain was 2,000 feet and steep.  It didn’t help that I had resupplied my food bag and added food weight to my stomach in town.  We hit the summit and started a ridge walk.  A little after 7 PM we made it to a shelter.  We talked as we walked down the blue blaze trail, we would stay here, set up camp, get water, eat, and go to bed.  When we got there we saw tons of tents and a large group of girl scouts.  We approached the shelter to find it full of section hikers.  There was a roaring fire and no more places to tent.  One guy mentioned they had been at the shelter since 4 PM, we were just getting our afternoon started!  No one offered to squeeze together and fit us in the shelter, even though there was a good 2 feet between everyone, but we didn’t want to shelter anyways.  With no place to camp we quickly moved on.  We hiked a few minutes and found a flattish spot to stealth camp.  My tent barely fit into an angled spot with some sapling trees hanging over the sides.  We ate and headed to bed.  It was a 12 mile day with a 4 hour town visit…not bad, but we had wanted to do more.  We were exhausted, another tough day.  We camped around mile 1,944.5, 239.8 left!

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