“We shall never achieve harmony with the land, anymore than we shall achieve absolute justice or liberty for people. In these higher aspirations the important thing is not to achieve but to strive.” -Aldo Leopold
The last five days have been some of the most scenic on the trail so far. This is mainly due to premier views from spots like the Dragons Tooth, Tinker Cliffs, and McAfee’s Knob. These beautiful spots are widely known and recognized in the region. The spots that rival these views but don’t receive quite as much recognition are the mountain valleys and the rejuvenating streams that can be found hiding at the base of the mountains.
In order to see beautiful valleys and jaw dropping vistas one must be at the bottom of the mountain and at the top. The daily change in landscape and elevation has made for some challenging terrain. Early summer can really be felt when crossing exposed farm fields. Steep climbs and increasingly rocky terrain preface most scenic outcroppings. We came into camp in the dark two nights ago because the views were so amazing that mandatory rest breaks were a must.
After over 700 miles on the trail, I can finally say that we not only feel a little bit older but that we have all grown a little older. On May 25, Goose had his golden birthday; he turned 25 on the 25th. The whole Packing It Out trio has now had a birthday on the trail. I was lucky enough to celebrate my birthday on the 29th of March, the day we started. Spice undoubtedly had one of the most scenic birthdays atop Thomas Knob in the Grayson Highlands. Goose’s birthday quickly became a challenging day of climbing and rocks, but it ended in good form next to a mountain stream with a crawfish boil; a birthday that would surely earn Huck Finn’s approval.
We are currently in Daleville, VA staying with the wonderful Heaton family. The Heaton’s are the parents of Doubleback, who hiked the first month with us. They live in a beautiful mountain home just a few miles south of the Appalachian Trail. Their home rests right next to Camp Bethel where young students come every summer to have their curiosity for the outdoors sparked. We couldn’t ask for a better place or better people to spend a day off with. A huge thanks to Gary and Beth Heaton for opening their home to us this week, and another big thanks for dealing with our epic thru-hiker stench. All of our gear has been quarantined in the garage. Of course, thank you to everyone who continues to follow and give us support. We are glad that you enjoy our posts and we always leave an open invitation to anyone who would like to come hike or meet for coffee in a resupply town. Let us know!