I am writing this post from our hotel room in Waynesboro, VA. We hitched here earlier this afternoon from the AT for resupply and a night off.
But we have a bit to catch up on before we get to here...
Atkins, VA to Highway 42.
It was raining hard the morning we woke up at the Relax Inn of Atkins, VA. The forecast called for rain all day, but the rain turned to drizzle and then to mist in the morning hours. After a disappointingly burnt breakfast at a nearby restaurant, we hit the trail around 11:30am. The rain the previous day poured right thru my worn out raincoat so I picked up a rain poncho at the gas station but luckily the rain never came. We hiked about 14 miles this day. Out of desperation, we invented a terrible (edit: delicious) sandwich for lunch: hotdog but with peanut butter, corn nuts, and A1 steak sauce! Our scant options came from our first, and hopefully only, resupply at a gas station. We let Minty walk off leash and was perfectly behaved except for the dozen of times he took off after critters. He had become very attached to us by this time. When he ran off after a critter, we would keep walking, and a few seconds later he would come running for us. Near the end of the day, we noticed Minty hobling a bit so we cut our day short by a few miles for his sake. All seemed well when we ended our hike that day. By morning, however, Minty didnt put any weight on his right rear leg so we took a zero so he could rest.
We sat in our tent by the shelter all day and let him sleep. We tried to asses his condition but it was unclear to us what was wrong. Our belief was that he stepped on something or pulled a muscle while chasing squirrels. Minty was the happy, friendly dog to everyone that day dispite his injury. He would run around camp on three legs at full speed!
The next day, Minty showed no sign of improvement or worsening so we sat around for a second day. Our friend Katie had planned to pick us up about 50 miles north of our location on the following day for a zero. I managed to walk a mile up a mountain a few times and get sufficient signal to text with Katie and change our plans before my phone battery died.
The next morning we packed up, backtracked on the trail with Minty about 2 miles (we had no better option) to get him to a road. Katie picked us up here where the AT crosses VA highway 42 by O'Lystery Pavillion. Minty impressed us by hiking his normal speed but all on three legs! Katie took Minty, Greta, and I out for Mexican food back, to Damascus for some gear needs, and spent the night with us at a motel in Wytheville, VA.
By this point, it was May 2nd, Minty still wasn't showning any sign of improvement. We had originally planned to hike with him until the end of June, but given the uncertainty surrounding his injury, we decided to bring Minty up to Boston now to our friend who wanted to adopt him. We rented a car and drove 14 hours up to Boston. The next morning we took Minty to the vet and gave him to our friend. The vet believed his injury to be a degenerative condition which causes the doggy ACL in his leg to weaken over time before eventually tearing, leaving his leg not usable for walking as we saw now. We were told this was unrelated to hiking and was bound to happen eventually. Apparently this is a common and little understood disease affecting certain dog breeds. The treatment involved lots of rest and medication, or surgery most likely to fix the ligament. A follow up appointment with a orthopedic specialist would be necessary. We said our goodbyes to Minty-dog, crying heavily in the parking lot. We wished him the best and left him with our friend.
The next day we drove 14 hours back to VA. We decided to return the car to Pearisburg, VA, a town located approx 90 miles north of where we left with Minty. This location is approximately where we would have been had we not had to zero for six days to take care of Minty. Our hope was that we would return amongst the same group of hikers and stay ahead of the majority of hikers which started the trail after we did. Plus the enterprise in Pearisburg was located within a tenth of a mile from the trail. We plan to go back and complete this section from VA 42 to Pearisburg before the end of the year to complete our thruhike.
Future posts we include the following:
-Pearisburg to Daleville
-Daleville to Buena Vista
-Buena Vista to Waynesboro