Day 77 (Peaks of Otter Overlook to Tinker’s Cliffs)

Another cool morning. I said goodbye to Martha and hit the trail after breakfast. I saw a small coyote that ran down the trail in front of me. That was cool.

The terrain was rolling hills (mountains?) for most of the day. The trail continued to cross the Blue Ridge Parkway for the first half of the day but then headed for Daleville. I ate a snack at the gas station in Daleville in the early afternoon and then headed to Tinker’s Cliffs to meet Martha.

She hiked 10 miles north to meet me there. I passed by the Lambert Shelter on my way. There were a lot of signs posted about bear activity in the area. Sure enough, I saw a bear about 1/2 a mile south of the shelter. He was small so I kept an eye out for a momma bear for a while but didn’t see one.

The sunset at Tinker’s Cliffs was awesome. So glad to be able to share this with my friend Martha. We camped in a stealth site near the cliffs. No bears, just a deer.

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Day 76 (Marble Springs to Peaks of Otter Overlook)

It was windy and there was a chill in the air this morning. I started out the day hiking in a long sleeve shirt. As I descended to lower elevation, it warmed up quickly.

I noticed the faint scent of a skunk yesterday evening. It is the first time on my hike that I have smelled a skunk. It made me wonder if skunks live north of the James River. Hmmmm. The faint scent of a skunk brings back fond memories of vacations in the Smokies and on the Blue Ridge Parkway as a child and also as an adult. 🙂

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Today’s hike crossed over the Blue Ridge Parkway a number of times. I enjoyed the view from the Thunder Ridge Overlook. Later in the morning, I hiked out of the woods to a mountain top that had a water tower painted like a big soccer ball. Pretty surreal! I also hiked through a rock feature called the Guillotine.

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The highlight of my day was at mile 25 when I met up with my good friend Martha. She is going to hike in and meet me at the end of each day and camp with me for the next 4 days. It is so good to see her and catch up in person. She is the awesome friend that mails me all my food resupply boxes. She totally rocks!

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Day 75 (VA 60 to Marble Springs Campsite)

Mom, Laura, and I enjoyed breakfast at the Hampton Inn again this morning. Then we loaded up the car and headed toward the trail. I said goodbye to them at the trailhead and started hiking with a full pack again. I enjoyed their visit immensely.

I’m feeling well rested after a few shorter mileage days and lots of town food. I started hiking at 8:00 AM. It didn’t take long before the rain started to fall. It was warm so I didn’t bother with a rain coat. The rain stopped around 3:00 and the rest of the day I enjoyed the sunshine.

There were not as many raspberries on the trail today but there were a lot of blueberries. Yum!

My son Russ gave me a small mp3 player loaded with music for my birthday. Today was the first day I had a chance to listen to a lot of the songs. I loved the songs he chose. Some were songs we used to sing in the car on longer trips, some were his current favorites, some had an encouraging message about meeting challenges (etc.) but one song brought happy tears to my eyes and a huge smile to my face: Kanye West – Hey Mama.

The song fit so well it was like Russ was saying those things to me. Like the song says, he even went back to school this summer and he had an awesome semester. 🙂

I saw a bear a couple miles before I set up camp this evening. I made sure to do an extra food job hanging my food. I hope it is there when I get up in the morning.

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Day 74 (VA 56 to VA 60)

We got up at 6:00 and enjoyed the breakfast at the Hampton Inn. We decided the shuttle would be easier for mom if we ran NOBO instead of SOBO and the level of difficulty of the climbs and descents would be about the same.

Today’s section included a well known climb up a mountain called The Priest. The weather was cool and breezy for the first part of the day. After the initial 2000 ft. climb, we were on a ridge with fields of wildflowers and old apple trees. We enjoyed the views of the surrounding mountains. We climbed up The Priest near the end of the day. We took in the views for a bit and then descended 3000 ft. to find mom waiting on us again. 🙂

She was hanging out talking to some section hikers while she waited for us. We ate Mexican food on our way back to the Hampton Inn. I spent the rest of the evening getting my pack ready for tomorrow.

No more slack packing for a bit. Laura is taking my 20 degree sleeping quilt and my stove home with her. I’ll be sleeping with a sleeping bag liner since it is so warm. I’ve not used my stove since I started SOBO because I have found that I can rehydrate my meals with cold water and they still taste very good. So my pack will be 3 pounds lighter starting tomorrow. Yay!

Day 73 (Dripping Rock Overlook to VA 56)

Laura and I decided to run a shorter section today so we could spend more time with mom in the morning and afternoon. We had breakfast at Weasie’s again and headed to the trail. We started running around 9:00.

This section included the “Three Ridges” which required some climbing but offered up some nice views. It was hotter today than it has been. We had another fun day of running and chatting. 🙂

Mom was waiting for us when we arrived at VA 56. We went to the Crabtree Falls Campground to change clothes, get a snack, and meet the owner Sue. Mom visited with her while we ran.

Next we drove to Lexington and found a really cool Hampton Inn. The main building and a couple others are historic buildings. We got a room for two nights. It is almost as nice as my tent. 😉

After resting in the room, we went to Walmart for me to buy supplies and then enjoyed some Italian food.

Day 72 (Wildcat Ridge Trail to Dripping Rock Overlook)

My mom, Laura, and I woke up around 6:00. We had breakfast in Waynesboro at Weasie’s restaurant before my mom dropped Laura and me off at the Wildcat Ridge Trail parking lot on Skyline Drive.

It was perfect trail running weather and I felt light on my feet because I only had a minimal amount of stuff in my pack. I had it clinched down to hydration pack size.

We made it through Rockfish Gap right around lunch time. Then we were in the Blue Ridge Parkway territory and were finished with Skyline Drive.

It was pretty warm and humid in the afternoon. My water filtration system was having issues but we were lucky to pass by a couple springs so we didn’t need to filter the water. We finished up at Dripping Rock Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

We headed back to Waynesboro to the Quality Inn for another night. So much fun running with my sister Laura. We chatted the whole time. 🙂 Also, such a treat to get to see my mom. I’m feeling really lucky!

Day 71 (Powell Gap Hollow to Wildcat Ridge Trail)

Mushroom or flower?

Mushroom or flower?

I woke up early because I was excited about today. My mom and my sister Laura were driving up from Atlanta to spend a few days with me.

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I started hiking around 7:00. There were a lot of deer on the trail. I saw at least 20 today. I also saw 2 bears. That makes a total of 6 bears I’ve seen in the Shenandoah National Park plus 1 more in New Jersey for a total of 7 bears on the trail.

I swear there was a bear there a few seconds ago.

I swear there was a bear there a few seconds ago.

I didn’t have anymore sources of caffeine in my pack today so I stopped by the camp store at Loft Mountain Campground for a high calorie caffeine loaded snack. Not things I normally consume for sure.

Unhealthy 1300 calorie vegan snack consumed in 15 minutes.....yikes!

Unhealthy 1300 calorie vegan snack consumed in 15 minutes…..yikes!

I got to our meet up point at 5:00. Laura and mom had gotten caught in traffic so they arrived at 6:30.

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That brought me my resupply from Martha and special treats from Susan and Laura. Thank you! We had a fun evening together. So great to see them.

Yay! — with Laura Pound and Martha Franks.

Yay! — with Laura Pound and Martha Franks.