Day 35 on the Appalachian Trail

I awoke early and ate breakfast of tortillas, strawberry cream cheese, and chocolate milk. Out the door at 7 am and across the avenue back to the Appalachian Trail. The down and around on a muddy trail to US Highway 460 and a bridge over the New River. I quickly passed by a Celanese chemical plant, with a distinct odor of organic chemicals. The AT began an 1800-foot climb, which turned out to be agreeable because the trail was newly constructed. I walked with through hikers Ben and Becky for a time then headed on to the Rice Field shelter where I found Diatom leaving after a break. The AT entered a grassy area with views of the valley below. The AT followed a ridge for about 8 miles. I took the attached photo shortly before a 20-minute rain shower arrived. The rain created even muddier conditions. I ate lunch on a quality log, dining on tortillas, peanut butter, and M&Ms. About 15 miles on the day, I gained 400 feet of elevation then headed downhill to the Pine Swamp Branch shelter. Much of the trail was new and easy walking. At the shelter, I met Shutter Bug, whom I hadn't seen for two weeks, Diatom, and Coffee. A 20-minute rain shower delayed our dinner preparations. After dinner, Shutterbug moved on, while the rest of us stayed. Today's 19.5 miles agreed with me. The 24-mile days of the previous section were too much. I'm confident that I can sustain a pace of 20 miles per day without excess wear and tear on my body. Today's miles - 19.5. Total miles - 654.1.

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