The Sights and Sickness of the Last 300 Miles
Since the last update, I’ve spent some time off for various reasons, but I’m still trekking along. They say, “The last one to Katahdin wins,” but I’m hoping to get there long before the last hiker of the season.
Getting back on trail
After my short trip home, my husband (trail name: Rollie) drove me all the way from our home in Pennsylvania back to the hills of Virigina. The best part was that he spent the night with me at Four Pines Hostel and hiked a few miles with me the next morning.
Together we saw the Keffer Oak Tree, a 300-year-old tree with an 18-foot circumference, and the rock cairns that I can’t seem to find any explanation as to their existence.
The Keffer Oak
The next few days…
The views of the next few days were extraordinary. The Eastern Continental Divide, the Audie Murphy Memorial, and then…Virginia’s Triple Crown: Dragon’s Tooth, McAfee Knob, and Tinker Cliffs. Honestly, some of the best views in Viriginia!
Who knew this existed in the middle of nowhere–so cool!
Audie Murphy Memorial
The Audie Murphy Memorial stands near where the most decorated WWII hero lost his life in a plane crash in 1971.
Dragon’s Tooth monolith
Standing on the cliff at McAfee Knob was not for the faint of heart. Last fall Rollie and I climbed McAfee Knob and only he was brave enough to stand on the edge.
Hanging from the cliff at McAfee Knob is for the foolhardy, IMHO. This is Tree Man. He is an experienced and strong rock climber. DO NOT TRY THIS. Seriously though. I saw him chalk up his hands and I knew something epic would be happening. I ran to the other cliff to get the photo, all the while hoping my photo wouldn’t end up on one of those click-bait sites called, “Photos Taken Moments Before Tragedy Struck.”
View from Tinker Cliffs
The view from Tinker Cliffs into the valley below was breathtaking. I spent an hour just drinking in the sunlight, sights, and breeze. What’s really cool is that you can see McAfee Knob from Tinker Cliffs.
I’m unsure about what exactly put me out of commission for a couple of days. It could have been bad salmon (I had some of the bagged fish with minute rice for dinner). It also could have been the dreaded norovirus which spreads along the trail like wildfire.
From the internet: Norovirus infection can cause severe vomiting and diarrhea that start suddenly. Noroviruses are highly contagious. The infection is the No. 1 cause of foodborne illness in the United States. You can get the norovirus infection in many ways, including through:
- Close contact with someone who has the virus.
- Touching contaminated surfaces and then touching your mouth or nose.
- Eating or drinking contaminated foods or beverages.
I only had one of the two symptoms, which makes me wonder if it really was noro.
I spent the majority of the night throwing up, which is no fun when you’re at a tent site. Heck it’s no fun when you have the luxury of a flush toilet either. The tent site had no water source and I knew I needed to rehydrate. I called and arranged a shuttle to a nearby campground. A shuttle driver was willing to transport me even though I was sick (a huge blessing!). As soon as my strength allowed, I packed up my tent and headed for the road crossing.
Why go to a campground?
The campground was a safe place. I knew I could pitch my tent and not worry about every little noise. I knew I could get a shower when I finally felt well enough. I knew I could rehydrate with juice from the camp store. I knew I could keep to myself and not infect others.
I checked in, pitched my tent, and promptly went to sleep. Three hours later I felt well enough to get a shower and wash the “sick” off of my body. I had been told by others who previously dealt with noro that I should take it easy returning to hiking, that I could become weak and dehydrated quickly.
Feeling better but still not 100%
After sleeping through to the next morning, I decided to slack pack for the day. Slack packing is when a hiker takes a small pack with only food and water, leaving the rest of the pack at camp. It’s especially nice when recovering from an illness or injury as it allows the hiker to carry five pounds instead of 25 (or more).
By the following day I was back on trail.
More sights getting up to the 800-mile mark
The James River Footbridge is the longest foot traffic only bridge on the Appalachian Trail.
The James River Footbridge. The little dot on the left is my backpack which I put down about halfway across the bridge before walking back to get this photo.
I thought the Triple Crown had views that would be unmatched in Virginia and then I got to see the James River from afar.
Beautiful view of the James River
The Guillotine is a crazy-cool rock formation
A sad memorial
Water sources are becoming more scarce as I’ve headed north, lots of the creeks are currently dry and springs are low-flowing. Here’s hoping for more rain to replenish the water
Gathering around the water source
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