May 2, 2000

Pickle branch Shelter, Va 23 Miles Hiked Today 677 of 2167 Miles Hiked Total

Trail Magic - sodas in river at Trout Creek, VAFirst, I have to give Love Shack credit for helping me with my shin splint. Yesterday, he advised me that one way to help get rid of them is to hike such that you land on the ball of you foot when going downhill. I did this on my bad leg and it feels a lot better.

Second, I am always amazed at how the trail, or God provides. A few days ago I was thinking about the lack of Trail Magic, the last several hundred miles. Then, today we found soda (30+ under the bridge at Trout Creek), making three days in a row of Magic. Yesterday I was saying I needed a trash can so I didn't have to carry a soda can and a 24oz. plastic soda bottle. Not one minute after stopping for lunch next to a trailhead parking lot and forest service road, a ranger pulled up and parked. She told me that I could unload any garbage into the bag in the truck bed. Amazing.

Audie Murphy monumentToday was a long hike, but the rain clouds (it sprinkled a little) broke about 1:00 and we had an 80 degree day.  It actually was warm enough to be too warm. During my afternoon snack break at the Audie Murphy monument, I sat in the shade of a tree trunk. Funny that only recently we hikers were seeking sunny spots to stop in because it was too cool.

The views today were marvelous. We crossed green pastureland, climbed mountains, looked down on Virginia, and felt spring arrive. The Mountain Laurels are now blooming and smell great. Of course, there are also a lot of bugs out now, which is irritating, but oh well.

I stopped this morning at a farmhouse to buy some orange juice and the homeowner, a very nice woman, warned me about goats atop Sinking Creek Mountain.  It seems the goats will aggressively try to lick you all over for the salt. Was she right! I kept them at bay by putting the point of my hiking stick in the throat of the leader and pushing back. The others wouldn't come in until he did, so I only had to battle the one. At one point they quit following, but then five minutes later, I looked up and they were on the trail in front of me. I don't know how. This time I tried another trick. I growled, waved my hiking sticks, and scraped on the ground. They left me alone. I'm not sure if they were scared of the bigger, badder, beast, or just confused. Either way, I didn't get licked, a first for thru-hikers that meet these beasts.

The day also ended on a good note. After 21 of 22 miles we (me and the two Swedes - Swede #1 and Swedish Touch) arrived at Trout Creek. It was warm, so I had a chance to take a sponge bath and dip my shaggy head in the river. It felt great! Plus, I saw some trout rise to eat bugs and we found sodas cooling in the river. Swede #1 remembered that someone once told him to watch under bridges for Trail Magic sodas, and on their next to last day of hiking (they are leaving in Catawba tomorrow) there the drinks were. Again, amazing.

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