Day 23

Thomas Knob Shelter to Partnership Shelter – 35.7 miles

We are hiking by 6 AM. We pass through the Grayson Highlands in the predawn light. Many dozen ponies are grazing all around, some so close to the trail, we can (though don’t) touch them as we walk by.

We are off to a good start until we come to a horse corral a couple hours later. We notice we had gotten off the trail and are now rejoining the trail from the west. We missed a turn somewhere and were following a horse trail for who knows how long! So not to cut the trail, we decide to hike the AT south until we get to where we missed the turn then turn around and hike north.

We hike for less than two miles before we see the missed turn. We hadn’t seen the double blaze on a boulder. We still plan to get to Partnership Shelter today, about 36 miles, but this mistake adds three miles or so.

At 1:30 PM, we come to a fully stocked cooler of trail magic. We have 25 miles still to go. Cloudwalker asks if we should grab some and keep moving or sit and enjoy it. We decide to have a seat. I drink a Miller Lite; eat two over sized Little Debbie Creme Pies, two Cadbury eggs, peanut butter crackers, a Snickers, and a full-size sleeve of Oreos.

By late afternoon I’m starting to hurt and about 4:30 PM we have more trail magic. A church left a pop-up tent with a bunch of goodies. I have grape soda (haven’t had this in ages), Nutri-grain bar, cheese dip and bread crackers, and a Little Debbie. I consume a lot of calories today.

I take 800 mg of ibuprofen again today for my shoulder. My shoulder has been absolutely killing me lately. I don’t know if it’s my pack weight, or the way I pull/push my pack straps to tighten them, or if I caught myself from falling or what, but it kills. I can’t even use my pole because I can’t use my arm to push or carry any weight. My arm/shoulder feels only slightly better to just let my arm hang freely and carry my poles in the opposite hand. The medication, if I take first thing in the morning, helps a little, but only until about noon.

After the second trail magic, I start feeling sluggish. I’m not sure if the stopping and sitting helps my energy level or not. Cloudwalker goes ahead and I hike the last two hours alone to the shelter. I arrive at the shelter just as it is getting dark at 8 PM. It’s a nice shelter and there are just four of us here.  Pizza can be delivered to this shelter, but we decide not to since it would be late before it arrives. I try calling Linds, but I can’t connect. By the time I finish my daily camp routine, it’s 9:30 PM as I write in my journal.

I need to get rest. It was a big day, about 36 trail miles and possibly 40 miles total. It feels good to have a big day.

Wild ponies of Grayson Highlands State Park, Jefferson National Forest, VA


Partnership shelter


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