I didn’t sleep all that well last night with all the street lights and hiker noise going on. We were back on the trail a little after 9:00 and proceeded to hike a few miles, take a long break, and repeat, all day. The longest break was at Curry Creek where I sat on the rocks with my feet in the water. It was way too cold to get all the way in, despite my sweatiness factor.

Shortly after that I fell going downhill and messed up my knee a little bit. I normally don’t use the hand straps on my trekking poles because when you fall, your hands are tied up and you can’t catch yourself. Since I am testing new poles, however, I wanted to test with the straps for a least a week to give good feedback, and I’ve also found that using the straps substantially lessens the pinched feeling I’ve been having in my shoulder since I don’t have to really grip the handles much.

I’m not even sure what tripped me but I ended up head down the hill, stuck like a turtle with the pack weighing me down, and with both legs tangled in both poles. After laying there to assess for a minute, I got untangled and back on my feet. The back of my left knee had some tightness when I moved it that was painful at first and caused me to limp and go slow but by the end of the day, it was mostly better. I’ve fallen less than ten times on the trip so far and never been injured by it before so I think I’m doing pretty well.

We got up to the Blue Ridge Parkway, a scenic byway that I love and have been on several times before, and we will be crossing back and forth over it until we get to Shenandoah and it turns into Skyline Drive. We stopped at an overlook for dinner but the bugs were so bad, despite the wind, that I left as soon as I was finished. The goal was Bobblets Gap Shelter and 17 miles for the day.

It was almost dark and I was a mile out when it started pouring. I put my pack cover and rain jacket on and kept going, getting to the shelter right before full dark. Outside Dog soon caught up. The shelter was full but they made room for us and we waited for Stretch and Storytime. They had still been eating when I left so I wasn’t sure how far back they were. Eventually it was late enough that we assumed they had set up tents elsewhere when the rain started and stopped worrying about it.

Also, I pulled off my first tick tonight. It was on my ankle so it couldn’t have been there long. Most people have been finding tons of them already so I was paranoid that I was just missing them somehow but maybe they don’t like me quite as much. Mosquitoes and biting gnats love me though. Does anyone know a natural bug repellant that works? I’d like to avoid deet if possible.

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