Day 61 – Virginia Blues?
Rabbit and I both slept in longer than usual at Sarver Hollow Shelter. We both slept until after 8:30. The nearly 22 miles the day prior was our third longest day and we both needed the additional rest. We took our time getting ready. I traveled 0.2 miles downhill to what felt like Narnia to get water for both of us. When I got back a couple does had wandered into our camp and they occupied our attention for perhaps another 20 minutes.
The 0.4 miles uphill back to the main trail was quite the task. The steep side trail was not something we had considered much the previous night when planning our stay (that was a problem for “tomorrow Witch Doctor”). Our first four miles of the day were along a rocky sloping ridgeline with good views of the valley below. The constant slope of the rocks however put some additional strain on our feet to manage the grade.
I hiked a lot solo and found myself wondering how Sip was doing. Just a month ago there were five of us (six with Stan) and we were one big happy tramily. If you’re going by the numbers of only 25% of thru-hikers actually complete the full journey to Katahdin, ME. Was it even realistic to think we’d remain intact the whole way? Regardless of who makes it to the end, I already know I’ve made some new friends for life.
Six miles in we took an extended break at Niday Shelter. I was exhausted and still tired and took a 20-minute cat nap while Rabbit got water. Our intended 23 miles was not going to happen today. I dragged myself awake and tried to drum up some motivation for our big climb of the day. 1,700 feet over two miles was one of the steeper and more consistent climbs we’ve had in while. My pace slowed considerably for the final 1/3 of the climb but the top was a welcome site. As Sip would say “my dogs were barking.”
At the top of the mountain was a monument dedicated to US service member Audie Murphy. He was a decorated WWII veteran and a Texas native. I recognized the name immediately because the main VA location in San Antonio is named after him. It was a humbling site and I rendered it a salute before departing.
The last four miles or so was a steady downhill along a ridge line with some switchbacks. I caught up with Rabbit at road about one mile from our final shelter, Pickle Branch (I’d been yelling “I’m Pickle Rick!” all day). Upon realizing it too was down a 0.5 mile side trail, we learned our lesson from yesterday and opted to set up camp right there instead.
We had a cold soak for our feet in the stream while we ate our dinners. We’re both due for a resupply tomorrow and have a 13-mile day planned into Catawba, VA. Along the way we’ll pass the 700-mile mark and a cool rock formation called “Dragons Tooth”.
Stow away in my pack for day 62 on the Appalachian Trail.
Hey Brother, I hope you Angie and the girls are all doing well. I wanted to say thanks again for hosting me on my road trip two years ago. You all are welcome anytime if you’re passing through Texas. I miss y’all and we’ll have to get together again soon. Take care.
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