Day 42: Laurel Creek Shelter to Pickle Branch Shelter, 22.5 miles
Day 43: Pickle Branch Shelter to Lambert’s Meadow Shelter, 23 miles
Day 44: Lambert’s Meadow Shelter to Daleville, 9.4 miles
After the heat effected me the day before, I resolved not to let it happen again. I drank a lot of water the night before, the following morning, and throughout the day. My efforts seemed to pay off, and I definitely felt better. We still had a few unplanned breaks throughout the day though. First we walked by the 300 year old oak pictured above, and marveled at its thick trunk like branches. Later we came across banana and Little Debbie brownie trail magic by a road crossing, so we took a break to enjoy those. Shortly after that, Garrett’s shoe ripped by two inches on the toe. It had happened a couple days before on the other shoe and I had sewed it up later, but this rip was worse and his toes kept coming out of his shoes so we stopped again to mend it.
Shortly after that we began climbing up to a ridge again, and I looked down at my arm to find that I had been bitten by a deer tick! I’ve never been bitten by a tick before, and it shocked me a little to see just how little the tick was. It was barely larger than how big the dot of the i in this sentence is. Garrett pulled it out with our tweezers by the head, and we placed it in a ziplock bag in case we needed to test it later in town. It hadn’t been attached long, we check frequently for ticks, and it wasn’t engorged with blood- a good sign. I called poison control when we had service (apparently you can call them about ticks!) and they told me not to worry since it hadn’t been attached for long, and to watch for any flu like symptoms for the next two weeks. The rest of the day was thankfully uneventful, and we made it to Pickle Branch Shelter that evening.
The next morning while packing up I thought I saw the biggest black bear I’d ever seen, until I realized it was just a cow. Virginia is full of farm land, and based on the farm sounds echoing from the valley below there was one close by. Not sure how this cow made it up to the shelter, but it ate some leaves and meandered down the trail. We followed it for a couple minutes before it veered off the trail, and made its way elsewhere. Our wildlife viewings for the day were not over. It rained off and on throughout the day, and it seemed to coax the turtles out of their hidding, because we saw two on the trail as well as a bunch of salamanders.
We crossed a road and stumbled upon trail magic, coffee and doughnuts! I’ve been saying I thought coffee and doughnuts would be great trail magic, and I was not disappointed! It was a powerful snack, and the rest of the afternoon was a breeze. We climbed up to McAfee Knob, and snapped the picture below just before the rain started again.
The rain didn’t last long, and the rest of the day was mostly downhill. We ran into our friends Frodo & Nopol who we’ve been behind for the last few days, and had a good evening at Lambert’s Meadow Shelter. I had grabbed a pop tart for the road from the trail magic, and was happily surprised to find when I opened it at dinner that it was cinnamon roll flavor- icing on the cake of a great day!
The hike into Daleville the next day went quickly, and we had BBQ and resupplied. We debated staying in town or not, but ultimately decided to stay. My pack has been bothering me, and so I traded it for a ULA Circuit ultralight back that has more adjustments for petite women. It was waiting for me in town, so I spent some time that afternoon getting used to it- I think we’ll be very happy together!