25% Done & 17 Morels

A few days ago our expedition passed the quarter way mark. That’s over 550 miles. We were really excited about it, but there hasn’t been any place to celebrate it. The trail in Virginia is supposed to be flatter and faster traveling than further south, but the towns and resupply opportunities are fewer and less interesting. We have been putting in some long miles and enjoying the milder weather at lower elevations.

Here are some glimpses of our week of hiking north of Damascus:


Wild ponies near Mount Rogers. The ponies were released there to keep the highlands grassy. This area was historically used for grazing cattle, but now it’s a recreational park, presumably for grazing boy-scouts, of whom there was a veritable army, using every available shelter and tent site.


A view of Grayson Highlands. We had a beautiful sunny morning up here, but the afternoon brought on sudden thunder storms which left us hustling nervously for the next shelter.


Our first view of the Virginia blue ridge.


A fantastically dilapidated farm building just after the quarter way mark.


There were a dozen or so of these fence stiles in one area. They are really un-fun.


Petrified Pineapples. Ok, maybe they are just pinecones. I see food everywhere.


Dutchman’s Breeches, which I think we actually saw near Laurel Falls in Tennessee, but they didn’t make the blog yet.


The view from Chestnut Knob. The trail in Virginia sometimes follows a level ridge (like those seen here) for miles. We thought that a six mile section would be a piece of cake, but it turned out to be entirely made of rubble. It was one of the most excruciating days we have had.


A wee salamander found under the leaves while picking ramps for our dinner. This one’s for you Jim!


We crossed a suspension footbridge across a river that our guidebook didn’t name. The whole thing shakes as you walk, which Willett found very unsettling.


The best for last! We found seventeen morels on our longest day yet (almost 24 miles.) I looked down at a pair of them right on the trail, so we stopped for half an hour to scour the area. Anne found the next one and we kept on from there. They went into the best Ramen we have ever eaten.

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About real.pretty.food

After five months of Snickers Bars and couscous, eating all the meat and vegetables I can get my hands on...
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4 Responses to 25% Done & 17 Morels

  1. James Hanken says:

    For those like me who are tantalized by the above photograph of a salamander, the species is Plethodon glutinosus, the northern slimy salamander. For more information, check out the species at . Great spotting, Travis and Anne!

  2. John Chandler says:

    Jenn and I really enjoy your posts. Congrats on making it 25% of the way! It seems like you are making great time.

  3. Misti says:

    I remember that bridge, we camped under the north side of it after a trip to Trent’s Store. Then it rained and water came running down under the tent.

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