It worked! Straight away we saw a couple of little bears and some deer and lots of rabbits. We stayed at Loft Mountain campground, which has nice tent sites set back from the road and other campers. The next morning we started a little later than I thought we would, but it was no big deal. For it being such a busy trail and a beautiful weekend, we didn't run into too many people. Lots of bugs, though: here's an active beetle and a not-so-active moth.
We finished the teensy stretch of Appalachian Trail that we had planned to cover and then we crossed onto another trail network with the intention of camping near a stream that night and hiking back to complete a loop on Sunday. Unfortunately, we were still about a mile and half away from the stream when our path was blocked by a big ole snake. Fortunately, J was leading and her reflexes are exemplary. Right before she set her left foot on the snake, it rattled. She immediately shot backward five yards through the air with a cry of something one should not shout in front of one's mother. We then tried to encourage the snake to move along but he really wasn't into it. Eventually he slid into the grass uphill, but when we tried to pass he rattled again (an invisible rattler is even scarier than the one you can see) and we decided it was time for a new plan.
Since Christopher had just returned from training in Philadelphia, we opted to head back to Takoma Park instead of camping that night. We hiked back, drove back, saw Beats, Rhymes, & Life, and spent the hottest part of Sunday strolling around the neighborhood where Chris is planning to move. Non-venomous fun. Back at the house we had crabs and beer to celebrate J's birthday and then we walked up to 7-11 to celebrate the fact that we could walk up to 7-11. I don't have too many complaints about living in Columbus, but I'd be lying if I said that the lack of Slurpee access means nothing to me.
And that was it. I flew back to Ohio and will start figuring out the next stage of the AT plan. We're about 0.25% done now, by J's calculation.