I flew back to Roanoke yesterday after a fun but exhausting weekend. I decided to stay with Caz and Scott one more night so we could hang out and so we could go to Due South BBQ, my favorite restaurant near them. It was delicious, again. I got the Big Slop, which consisted of the jumbo pulled pork sandwich and three sides: macaroni and cheese, fried apples, and fried green tomatoes. We got back to the house to discover Abby, the dog, had gotten into my pack. I forgot I had my resupply already in it and had left it in the living room. She managed to get under the lid and through two tightly cinched drawstrings to eat a whole bag of jerky and some apple carrot bars, all with a cone around her neck. The mind boggles. I was oversupplied any way though so oh well.

Caz and Scott dropped me off back at the trail early this morning and I got started with new poles (gear testing again) and a lighter pack as I had switched the rest of my winter stuff out while I was home. I soon came to the Keiffer Oak, the largest oak tree on the southern AT at 18 feet around and over 300 years old. I had misread the guide earlier as 18 feet diameter so it was slightly smaller than expected.

I took a break on a rock outcropping with a great view under the power line after a few miles then got going again along the ridge of Sinking Creek Mountain. There were many gorgeous views the whole length of it but they all seemed to be in the sun so I took a long lunch when I found some shade with no view. Since I just took five zeros, I planned a slow day to ease my joints back into hiking. Another break at Niday Shelter then I collected water for dry camping before starting up Brush Mountain.

It had nice switchbacks that made the climb easy and then there was a bench at the top to rest on, where I ran into Burrito. We chatted for a bit then he moved on to look for camping and, after catching up with Stretch on the phone, I moved on to check out the Audie Murphy monument. He was the most decorated American soldier of WWII. Years ago I saw him in a western on AMC and looked him up on IMDB, where I found out about his war experience. I then bought his book, To Hell and Back, which is an excellent first person account of the war.

It was a peaceful monument with more benches and an overlook. I sat there for a while debating whether to move on or camp at the nice site by the monument and eventually decided to stay. 15.1 miles today and early to bed to catch up on sleep from the weekend.

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