Been a while since I've had blister/hot spot issues. Had a start of a few hot spots from the high mileage days leading up to Pearisburg, and from going a little faster than normal. For the most part, those healed up when we took our zero day plus a little more downtime in town. Today we were on the trail by 7am, and hiked 21.5 miles with only a few short breaks. Along a rocky ridge, Tarzan noticed a long line of ants leading up the rocks in one spot. He followed their path up to a little den in the rock where he spotted a snake. We were pretty sure it was a rattlesnake, and had that confirmed when it started rattling at us. It was coiled up under a shelf of rock, with its rattle under its body, and its head above its body, watching us. We kept our distance and showed No Trace and his crew behind us. Based on how thick it's body looked, we guessed it was probably at least 4 feet long. About 5 minutes later, Tarzan and I smelled something like a dead animal. I looked over to the left side of the trail, and there was a rattle snake under a large rock, with flies swarming around it. Looks like someone may have killed it with the rock. From then on for the rest of the day I was paranoid. I guess you can't constantly be scared of them, but you just have to be aware of your surroundings. The longest was about 45 min to an hour when we stopped to eat dinner at a shelter. Just before the shelter, we hit an area that reminded me so much of California hiking. There are Ponderosa Pines here which look just like what I've seen in Cali (I believe that's what's in Yosemite too). The smell of them is just like many of the smells you get while hiking in and around Yosemite and the Sierras. It was great to get those memories of times spent outdoors there! Then we hiked on, even though maybe I should have stayed there, because the hot spots on the balls of my feet were painful while hiking. Went on anyway and thought we'd do a few more miles. Crossed a road and stream and saw No Trace, Unbreakable, Nutterbutter, and Rainbow down by a river. They had a sweet camping spot set up and couldn't even be seen from the trail. They whistles at us to let us know they were there, so we stopped by for a little visit. Also washed my face, arms, and legs off in the river, and washes a pair of socks too. Felt great. I knew if we were going to hike to where we wanted on top of the ridge, we would need to leave soon, so I didn't soak my feet. Wish I would have to make them feel better. There's a family style all you can eat restaurant up ahead that we heard great things about. We are somewhat pushing out extra miles each day to get there in time to eat. It's only open certain days and times. If it wasn't for that, I think I'd be throwing out the "why don't we just stop here and call it a day instead of pushing on when we aren't feeling overly strong". Would have been nice today to stop and hang out with that crew, and in a great spot too.
Now we don't have to do the crazy uphill tomorrow morning, as we knocked it out tonight, but my feet are feeling it now and I'm sure will be pretty sore tomorrow.
Gotta figure out how to eliminate these hot spots and blisters on the balls of my feet.