The path down to Elk Garden (where we camped on Day Four)...
The rain had stopped. The next two days promised to be the most picturesque of the whole trip. Multiple mountains to climb, descend and sally by. We are behind schedule. Our intention was to hike a 14 mile day to Lost Mountain Shelter.
Didn't make it.
Taran's feet had gotten wet the previous day. Angry blisters emerged! He did his best to mend them with moleskin. I gave him a pair of wool socks (didn't know he was hiking in booties). He also cut a hole in the bottom of his floppy shoes and strung laces through them to hold it together. This worked.
We enjoyed the views this best of days. We stopped off at Thomas Knobb Shelter to rest. This shelter is a double-decker one, just before the very top of Mt. Rogers--the tallest mountain in Virginia. It has an alpine flavor to it. And it was cold. We had endured the climb through Rhododendrum Gap to get there. We filled our water bottles and moved on.
We ended up completing 10 miles. We stopped at a place called "Elk Garden" which didn't have water. We used what little we had to make (yet again!) Ramen. At this point we both were getting rather nauseated at the sight and smell of this awful noodle. We had a couple of trail bars left. Some trail mix without M and M's (which is worthless, in my opinion).
Taran carried a tent with him. He set it up at Elk Garden. Since we both were a bit ripe by this time, I elected to sleep outside the tent Cowboy Fashion style. Now the last time I had done this, I had a bat crawl into my sleeping bag. I cleared the area around me and hoped that the gigantic Eastern Diamondback rattler wouldn't decide to share my bed. Nor a copperhead.
We made a fire, knowing that we had quite a journey ahead of us if we were going to make it to Damascus by Day Six. The fire warmed us as we talked. Although our talk was losing the cerebral quality of our earlier discussion. Mostly we talked about our aching backs. Our feet. Our tired muscles. And about the burgers and malts we would eat when this death march was over.
Mileage: 10 miles. Total mileage thus far: 29 miles.