May 20, 2013
Today’s mileage: 21.4
Total mileage: 899.4
We were so ready to leave our campsite this morning since we had been there for over 36 hours. Since we had slept so much the day before, we were able to wake up around 6:30 and leave at about 8:15. As we put our packs on, the skies cleared and the sun came out. We climbed to the top of Blackrock, a jumble of large rocks atop the mountain. We had a clear view from here, the first view I’ve seen in the Shenandoahs other than fog and clouds. It was very humid today. Sweat collected on my face, gathering below my chin, and dripped to the ground as I hiked.
We hiked at a very good pace today along the easy terrain of the park. By 12:30, we had already hiked over 10 miles and took a break at Ivy Creek. I thought I was starting to get sick after our break. The faster I hiked, the better I felt. When I stopped, I began to feel worse. Thankfully, the feeling went away. I may have just eaten too much during our break. I think that Snickers bar did me in. No virus yet…
The aroma of wildflowers dominated our senses as we hiked along the trail bordered with pale purple flowers and the occasional buttercup. We saw a rabbit and our second bear cub today! We were quiet enough that the large cub, somewhat off trail, had no idea that we were there. Again, no mama bear sighting here.
We stopped at Powell Gap at one of the Skyline road crossings just a few miles from the hut to take a quick break. A car pulled up and we recognized Hobo, our fellow thru-hiker, and his wife. We had met him in the Smokies and he is also from Maine. He hails from North Yarmouth. We talked about what had happened since we last saw each other in Gatlinburg and he filled us in on the tragedy at Trail Days. He was in the hiker parade there and said that the mood went from cheerful and celebratory to somber and quiet very quickly. Before he left, he gave us some food to take with us, including a Mountain House dinner. We’ll take those any chance we get! Plus, I may need them. I weighed myself for the first time since Hot Springs when we were in town last. According to the scale, I’ve lost seven pounds since we began our hike. I’ve probably lost more like eight or nine though since I weighed myself after eating at the AYCE buffet and having two beers. The weight loss doesn’t worry me though. When we left, I was more than liberal with my eating habits, getting in some of my favorite foods before I left. I wasn’t overweight, but I was certainly over what I normally weigh.
Our zero day did our feet some good as we made it to camp at 5:15, neither of us with any major foot soreness. Miles found a large tick on his leg as we left Powell Gap and I found a really small one on my leg as I was checking myself for them in the tent. I thought it was a speck of dirt at first, but it wasn’t coming off very easily. Before I had time to realize what it was, I had pulled it off. I wish I had realized sooner and had used my tick nipper to pull it out, but I’m hoping I got the entire tick out. It was so tiny, it was hard to tell. That is the first time I’ve ever had a tick on me and I bet it won’t be the last out here. Finding that minuscule tick is a really good reminder to check for the dang things every single day!