Thank you, Steve, for posting that great map!
So after the long weekend, I'm back on the Trail. Steve dropped me off where he'd picked me up last Thursday, and I got going about 1: 30, got to the shelter a little after 4:30.
Easy walking, 6 miles, with just a few ankle-sprain rock gardens, no leg-break boulder fields. I did not see a single other hiker the whole time. Entirely alone in the woods.
Felt a little klutzy, like I'd forgotten how to hike. My guidebook said the water source for the shelter was a spring on the way to it. I crossed one, a shallow ooze over some rocks, managed to coax 3 liters into my water bag, then couldn't get my filter to run. So I just carried the bag to the shelter, discovering a little farther on the "real" water source, an abundant tumbling creek.
At the shelter I got my filter flowing again. Then my hammock lines were all tied in knots and it took half an hour to get set up. I just feel like a rookie.
Six nice fellows at the shelter. Too-Late and Gatsby, an uncle and nephew doing the Trail together; Snag, my age, who, like me, has always wanted to do this and hears his biological clock ticking; and 3 young guys doing just PA. One has horrendous blisters, the size of quarters and blood-filled, two on the back of each heel. I've never seen anything like it. He doesn't have sandals and is walking around the camp in his socks.