We ended up not going back to the summit of Mount Rogers this morning because the mountain was in the middle of a cloud and we wouldn’t have been able to see anything. We did hang around the shelter for a while waiting to see if the cloud would lift but it never did and we finally left about 11:30. The trail was very rocky for the whole day and had some climbing, including a rock tunnel called the Fatman Squeeze.
We had thought we wouldn’t see any wild ponies until we hit the few miles of Grayson Highlands State Park but apparently they were already all around us so I was walking very slowly waiting for some ponies to find me. I ended up not seeing any until the park any way, where I saw a herd as soon as I entered. The ponies are a little pushy because they’re used to people feeding them. I hung out with them for a bit though before some day hikers ran them off.
This is a very popular and touristy area, what with the ponies and balds and nice views, and it being a weekend, I saw more people on the trail today than I’ve ever seen. There were mostly section hikers in the shelter last night and there were so many around today despite the crappy weather. It was only lightly raining on and off but it was very foggy and most of the views were blocked so I would have expected any day or weekend hikers to postpone their trips.
The sun finally came out just before I reached Wise Shelter after 5.1 miles so I was able to get my shoes and socks off to dry out. They were still soaked from yesterday when I put them on this morning but I managed to get my gaitors and insoles completely dry, my socks mostly dry, and my shoes less soaking wet when they were all laid out in the sun. It did rain again for a short time after dinner but we were already in the shelter playing cards.
The shelter is sitting at the 500 mile mark on the trail so we wanted to do a short day both to be able to stay there, and to hang out with the ponies. We haven’t seen any in this area though, although there is evidence of them everywhere.