--> Hightop Hut, 23.9 miles
I saw six bears today. As I was walking, shortly after leaving the shelter, I heard a rustling in a tree nearby. I assumed it was just a squirrel until I heard a branch break. Squirrels don't break branches. There was a bear up in a tree. I watched him until he climbed down and ambled away. The second bear was also up in a tree. Three and four were on the ground. One was a small cub, and I tried to get a good picture. Wildlife photography is hard. Number five was running away as I saw it. This was all in the first hour of me leaving the shelter. I finally got to Big Meadows Wayside where I had some pancakes for a second breakfast. On my way up Hazeltop I saw bear number 6. I stopped at the South Mountain Picnic area for lunch.
I filled up my water in Swift Run Gap then climbed up Hightop Mountain. These 1000' climbs keep getting easier to do. There was an overlook at the summit, then I dropped down to the hut. No one else is here, and I hope no one shows up. I like having the shelters to myself. I imagine the trail will get more lonely once I get south of Waynesboro. It will be great.