Today was a 21.9 mile day. My feet and lower legs are a little sore, but no more than any other day with lots of downhill at the end. I think they’ll feel great in the morning.
Miss Janet dropped us back off at Devil’s Fork Gap around 9:30 and Stretch and Uncle Buck and I were ready to go. Stretch and I were sharing a day pack so half of the day I had a light pack on and half of the day I had no pack on. I don’t think I moved all that much faster than if I’d had my full pack but I felt better going farther.
We started out in an area full of wildflowers and the trail was along some cascading streams so that was gorgeous. The whole day was pretty green and had some good views. Uncle Buck found an old spearhead at one of the water sources so I’m super jealous.
Later we were trying to get over Big Bald before the storm came since it was exposed and we didn’t want to take the bypass trail. It started sprinkling lightly a couple of miles beforehand so we sped up and seemed to get ahead of it. Right before we got to the bald itself, it started raining harder and when we got out on the bald, there was so much fog we could barely see the next blazed post and the wind really picked up. Stretch took the pack from me and I stopped to get a photo of the survey marker and almost got blown over. Then we were basically running across and it never seemed to end. I was yelling “How big is this bald?!” because we couldn’t see how wide across it was.
Right after we got off the bald the rain stopped. Then we were on Big Stamp which had some amazing views with the shifting clouds and fog. I always love the scenery after rain, the colors of everything just pop and the light is great for photos. By the time we got past Little Bald, the sun was back out and dried off my pants since I’d never put my rain pants on and they’d gotten soaked. My legs were starting to get tired and I was more than ready to stop by the time we reached Miss Janet’s van at Spivey Gap a little after 8.
We decided to slackpack this section because it had the main norovirus outbreak and we wanted to get through it as quickly as possible. Until now we’d only heard about people getting sick, with rumors of anywhere from 50-80% of hikers catching the virus, but today we kept running into sick people. Three were waiting for Miss Janet to pick them up at Sam’s Gap when we stopped for lunch, and we ran into a couple later who had just zeroed in the woods for three days and were slowly making their way back out to town. Then after Miss Janet picked us up, we went back to Sam’s Gap to pick up three more sick people, including Shaggy who we’d seen perfectly healthy that morning, which worries me. And everyone was saying how they were taking all the precautions and still got it. At this point, I’d almost rather just get the virus and hole up in a motel for a couple of days, and then be able to hike without having to worry about when I’m going to get it.
SoWay had a delicious dinner made when we got back and I wanted to pass out but had to socialize a little bit first. We haven’t planned much for tomorrow yet but it will probably be more slackpacking.