Day 45 – Laurel Creek Shelter to Campsite just past Pickle Branch Shelter

22.6 miles, 61,593 steps, 525 stories climbed

704.4 miles, 1,831,960 steps, 17,611 stories climbed
Had a pretty rough day today.  Got an  early start but early on I had to cross some rough streams using the wet, slippery rocks and only about a mile in I had to stop and go to work on a developing hot spot on my left foot.
I was fine for a while after that and made it to Keffer Oak, the second largest oak tree on the trail, believed to be over 350 years old! (There is a slightly larger one on the NY portion of the trail but supposedly not in as good a spot for pictures). Imagine that, this tree was here more than 100 years before the American Revolution!
   

 

After that was the climb up to Sarver Shelter.  I was tempted to stay here last night but I would have arrived too late.  There are rumors in the hiking community that this shelter is haunted.  It would have been interesting just to read the log book but it’s set pretty far off the trail so I just passed on by today.
Not long after the Sarver Shelter things got a bit dangerous on the trail.  There was a very long portion of the trail where I was on the ridgeline hiking along slanted, wet, slippery, moss covered boulders where one misstep could mean a very nasty and possibly long fall. (Sorry for the blurry picture but everything was wet at this point). I ended up slipping and tumbling a bit but luckily I didn’t sustain any injuries and while the going was slow I managed to survive that portion.
  
On one of those slanted, rocky ridgelines I had I brief reprieve from the rain and decided to sit down and eat lunch to this view:
  
The whole day the rain came and went but never became a downpour. I climbed up the next mountain of the day to get to the Audie Murphy Memorial.  This is a monument to the most decorated American to serve in WWII.  He died in a plane crash in the area around the monument.
  
The monument was surrounded by this rock structure (you see tons of these along the trail from hikers adding rocks over the years but I haven’t seen any as large as this one) I added a rock to the pile.  There were many bracelets for the Wounded Warrior program among other things supporting veterans that I’m sure some of the many veteran hikers have left over the years.
From here I still had about 5 miles to go and it was starting to get late.  I ate a quick snack and hiked on but before I knew it, I had to stop because the pain from my right foot now was started to become unbearable.  I found a spot to set my stuff down and went to work on healing my right foot which two of my toes had lost some skin.  I haven’t had any trouble with blisters lately but today was pretty bad.  It could be from all the wet weather but I’ll have to keep an eye on it, my feet may have outgrown my boots. (Not uncommon.  Most people’s feet will grow, some have been known to grow an entire size in there foot while doing the hike). Luckily, I’ll be around an outfitter in a few days if that’s the case.
I eventually made it to the turn for the shelter and decided against going to it.  The shelter was about half a mile off trail and rumored to be very crowded with a large group of teenagers.  I figured if I was going to end up tenting anyway, I might as well not walk so far off trail and also have a nice quiet spot.  I had already gotten water a little before the shelter so I just hiked on and not too much farther down the trail I came across a great spot to camp and hang my food bag for the night.
   

 

P.S. Less than 1500 miles left now!!!

3 thoughts on “Day 45 – Laurel Creek Shelter to Campsite just past Pickle Branch Shelter

  1. I hope your feet heal soon and don’t cause you anymore discomfort. Can’t wait until this is over so I can see you! Miss you. xoxoxo

  2. Great day for story telling, if not for hiking. The littlest things really are interesting – like the Haunted Shelter Log Book you ignored! How you have all of us very, very interested !

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