2800 feet DOWN in 5.1 miles. I spent the whole time worrying I was going the wrong way and thanking my lucky stars for my ski poles (no joke, get ya some). But I did take the right trail and I did make it to Deep Creek. The other side of the creek had a sign, but not my side. I had a moment of bushwhacking panic when I tried to follow something that resembled a trail but wasn't, and I have the scratches on my arms to prove it. The rest of today was pretty flat, but my feet are crying anyway. It was all along the creek, which was pleasant except for the GNATS. They don't care about Deet, I put it on my face and they continued to dive bomb my nostrils and eyeballs. Yuck. More interesting than gnats though, I saw four snakes. Two maybe copperheads, one of which lay perfectly still but the other hissed and waggled its tongue at me, a big black snake wiggled into a long zigzag on the trail, and, most exciting of all, a RATTLEsnake. I saw his body first and thought it was pretty, then I looked up and saw its huge venom cheeks and looked down and saw its rattle and got right out of there. Cool though!
I'm camped at the Horace Kephart campground now. These places are huge, and I'm so grateful for the bear cables. I washed my shorts and was hanging out in my underwear since I hadn't seen a soul since I'd split off from the shelter guys this morning, but then a man showed up who turned out to be my campsite neighbor, and I had to apologize for being pants-less. Lesson learned! His name is Jason, and he taught me the PCT method of hanging food and shared his whiskey with me, a very useful neighbor!
Anyway, I've got 14 miles to crank out tomorrow, so I should get some sleep, particularly since I got next to none last night.