We started out our day earlier than usual and ready to get out of the park. We still had our bottle of wine, so we told Connect 4 we’d meet her for lunch in the Compton Gap parking lot. We immediately took a wrong trail out of the shelter and ended up walking on a road. We almost got run over by some rangers in a truck! We found our way back to the AT and started a short, easy uphill. It was a foggy morning due to the rain and humidity, but we did have a little bit of a view from North Marshall Mountain. From here, we’d go back down the hill and then ascend Compton Peak. We met a photographer up here, Charlie, who took our photo and told us a little about the history of the park and all the side trails. He confirmed our suspicion that all the good stuff in the park was off on the side trails away from Skyline Drive and the AT. He was super nice, but we needed to head down to the parking lot to have lunch with Connect 4! We had our lunch and our bottle of wine and hiked together to the boundary of the park with her. She was going one way to the hostel and we were headed onward for the night. We parted ways and headed to the next shelter, Tom Foyd, for a break.
After this, we headed down past a 4-H camp and down toward Front Royal. We got some trail magic, some sweet tea, from some former thru hikers who lived close to the trail. We met up with Blues Clues and then headed up the mountain toward the Jim and Molly Denton Shelter, which was exciting for us since they had a solar-heated shower! We got to the shelter around 6 p.m. and had dinner. We were going to rinse ourselves in the shower with our clothes since we hadn’t showered in a few days and the heat had been so bad. When we found the shower, it was just a cold cistern with a trickle of water. We laughed it off and decided to head onward down the mountain and not stay. We lost the trail halfway down the hill and stumbled onward toward I-66 and the Manassass Gap Shelter. When we got to the footbridge, the trail went straight up the mountain and we were losing daylight. We decided it would be better just to stay down the hill next to the freeway for the night (sorry mom!) We made jokes about sleeping under the freeway like bums with expensive houses and slept really well to the sound of the traffic. (Don’t worry you guys, despite sleeping right next to the freeway, it was in a really great neighborhood and there were no on/off ramps; we were never in danger of being mugged or killed or anything like that, ha!)