Hard rain fell in the night, but I stayed dry and warm inside my tent. At 6:45am, I headed to the trail for a 3,109-foot descent to the Tye River. It didn't take long for me to slip on a wet rock. Soon after, I realized that my going downhill leg muscles weren't working properly. The severe exertions over the past few days may have depleted my reserves. Progress was malignly slow. I had to sit down every 10 minutes for a short rest. Several times I almost fell over. I wondered if this was the end of my Appalachian Trail trip. After 2 miles, I reached Cripple Creek, a psychological boost having lost 2,000 feet of elevation I continued downhill and finally reached a paved road and the river. On the descent, I noticed that my going uphill muscles were working, albeit at low capacity. I headed uphill slowly for a 3,000-foot climb. In two miles, I passed the Harper's Creek shelter. Then the trail steepened. It took me 3 hours to labor uphill for 3.3 miles to the top of Three Ridges Mountain. My reward was a pink azalea bush. Its carnation-like odor reached my nose before I saw the plant shown in the photo. Somehow, my going downhill muscles started working better such that the 1,000-descent to the Maupin Field shelter was tolerable. The sight of the shelter gave me hope that my AT hike wasn't over. After a rinse in the creek and dinner, I revived. About 7pm, a thunder shower rolled in, bringing wet hikers with it. I felt blessed to be in the dry shelter. Today's miles - 13.8. Total miles - 840.5.