We recently passed through Daleville, Virginia, which is mostly a few shopping centers off of I-81 just north of Roanoke. The large, modern supermarket there was enough to give us hikers some culture shock. It was all we could do to leave the premises with a safe amount of food. We spent some time in an outfitter as well, where I upgraded to a new, sturdier backpack. Although we intended to hike a few miles further, we lingered over errands and it started to rain, so we got a room at the Howard Johnson, where a surprising number of other hikers had had the same idea. We rose early to partake of the hot breakfast buffet (the crockpot of sausage gravy was all I needed), then hiked the five miles to the shelter where we had originally intended to stay the night. We were greeted there by a gentleman who is a forest ranger out west, but was on the trail to research a book he is writing on “Leave No Trace” principles for the AT. He solicited questions from us about such practices, which prompted Anne, who was rinsing the cereal bowls from our second breakfast, to walk a little further away from the shelter to dispose of the dishwater. It was thusly, to our delight, that she stumbled upon a large patch of morels, which the ranger did not discourage us from collecting. “Fruiting bodies,” such as berries and mushrooms, he explained, are exempt from restriction. He happily accepted our offer to share the bounty.
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