Day 40 on the Appalachian Trail

The motel offered a 'hot breakfast' starting at 6 am. I awoke at 5:45 and started eating breakfast a few minutes after 6am. Two large plates of biscuits and gravy plus scrambled eggs disappeared along with the extra instant breakfast mix that wouldn't fit in my food bag. I waddled back to my room, packed my gear, bid goodbye to Rush, and hit the trail at 7am. The first two miles paralleled noisy I-81. After an hour, the highway noise disappeared. The Appalachian Trail gained elevation at moderate pace for 5 miles to the Fullhardt shelter where I had a break. I enjoyed lunch 5.5 miles later at the Wilson Creek shelter. Much of the trail today ran through dryish forest growing on thin, rocky soils. The soil surface was completely covered with brown leaves. Herbs were sparse due to minimal sunlight falling on the forest floor. Shrubs, often dense, included blueberry and mountain laurel. I saw more flowering mountain laurel today than any other day thus far. In some places, such as shown in the attached photo, blooming shrubs nearly lined the AT. At a spring after lunch, I filled my water bottles to capacity (2.5 liters) for the dry 9-mile stretch to the Bobblets Gap shelter. At mile 14 on the day, the AT started paralleling the Blue Ridge Parkway. As I walked, my thirst grew. But providence smiles in the form of trail magic, mom and dad and their AT through hiker son. I downed two bottles of Gatorade, a granola bar, watermelon, and three pepperoni rolls. I walked 3 more happy miles to the Bobblets shelter, where I found more trail magic - watermelon and lemonade. Wow! Plus the shelter had a great spring next door and a top-quality privy. Today's miles - 18.5. Total miles - 746.0.

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