Day 79 (VA 620 to VA 632 at Johns Creek)

We had an interesting night camped near the Audie Murphy monument. Some local hunters were running their coon dogs in the area. They were very nice but the dogs were noisy. I think they finally went home about 2am. Needless to say, I was sleepy tired the next day.

I started the day by running/slack packing from our campsite north for 4.5 miles to the spot I stopped yesterday. Martha met me there and drove me back to were we camped. Then I ran south for 3 miles and met Martha again to reload on snacks and water. The next time we met was on Kelly’s Knob. Not much of a view really. We hiked together back to her car and then I continued 2 more miles.

Keffer Oak - estimated at 300 years old. Second largest tree in the AT.
Keffer Oak – estimated at 300 years old. Second largest tree in the AT.

We camped by Johns Creek. A nice site but there was no cell coverage. The trail in Virginia south of Shenandoah and the Blue Ridge Parkway is the worst maintained trail I’ve seen thus far. It is overgrown in so many places. That plus the heat (and the rattlesnake) made it a tough day on the trail for me.

Day 78 (Tinker’s Cliffs to VA 620)

We got up and had breakfast sitting on Tinker’s Cliffs. What a treat! I started hiking first because I wanted to take a few pictures at McAfee Knob. Martha had done this the day before. We met up at her car 10 miles away and ate a snack.

The days are really starting to get hot. A number of the afternoon miles went through pastures that had no shade. Martha meet up with me again to climb to the Dragon Tooth. It was pretty rocky. I continued on South and she hiked back to her car and drove to meet me at VA 620.

Dragon Tooth

In the last mile of the day, I saw a copperhead snake. It is only the second poisonous snake that I have seen on my hike.

We had planned to camp near VA 620 but decided we didn’t feel good about the spot. Instead we drove to the Audie Murphy monument and camped there. I will run north to VA 620 in the morning and then come back here and head south again. We had a nice big campfire. It is only the second campfire I’ve sat by this summer.

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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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