Marys Rock was a harder climb than I expected for only 1200 ft over 2 miles. It does follow Pass Mountainn at 3000 feet with a 2200 feet gap in between that escaped my attention, but the real problem for me was rock stairs and just plain rock. Also, keeping an eye out for vipers.
There was a deer, grazing in a field. When it saw me, it approached close enough to see if I had any food to offer, and only then turned away. (Please, everyone, Do Not Feed The Wildlife.)
A nearby bear sitting on the trail showed similar disregard. After a few minutes of staredown, it got up and strolled away to find nourishment, revealing a nortbound hiker who had also been following protocol.
His first bear sighting -- though he had me easily beat , two rattlesnakes near Loft Mountain.
A slighty younger gent passed me by and retured downhill to caution me that a heavy rainstorm was heading in from Luray in our direction. With sunset coming soon, I stopped to put on rain gear and get out my head lamp. Then, up the slope as fast as I could manage.
The wonderful view at Marys Rock got shortchanged, other than to confirm the rainstorm and check the sun's distance above the horizon. Then, on to Byrds Nest 3 to share dinner a quiet and chilly night with a half dozen thru hikers. The clementines given to me by a trail angel two days ago were happily welcomed; fresh fruit is hard to come by when you're racing north.
There was also a deer lazily foraging the tent area at Byrds Nest 3. Only irritation with the place, common to ridge line was the spring's location a half mile down the hill I had just climbed. Complaints have been filed with Management about the water supply, but have received only referrals to the established protocols for constraining the mighty oceans deep to their own limits (Navy Hymn).
I startled a largish lizard on the way down, which was only fair since he startled me. Legs, whew. Too close for a legless scaled animal.