Norovirus is one of the most feared things on the trail (second only to Lyme Disease). It is highly contagious and easily spread in the crowded conditions present in hostels and shelters. The symptoms, which include vomiting and diarrhea, usually last for a couple of days and make you feel miserable. The only way to prevent it is to keep your hands spotlessly clean with soap and water, which is next to impossible on the trail. Hand sanitizer will not kill the virus. Although I have not contracted Norovirus, I’ve know of nearly a dozen hikers that have experienced it. Few hikers will admit to having become sick from this virus because other hikers will treat you like a leper for a few days. Boo Boo is calling what he has food poisoning, but I’m calling it Noro.
I forgot to mention that yesterday I ran into both Cousin Eddie and Scar at breakfast. Cousin Eddie caught up with me at Four Pines Hostel, and she headed out yesterday. Scar has a nasty looking ankle injury and is hanging out at the HoJo until it feels better. So, once again, I’m headed out this morning by myself.
The hardest thing about leaving Daleville, other than carrying a pack that weighed approximately 1.32 tons from my resupply, was crossing US 220. Once I was safely across the road, the trail was like a walk in the park. The only distraction was the constant roar of the trucks on I-81, which parallels the trail through this section. After passing under I-81, I got away from the noise and got to walk through another beautiful pasture.
Just before crossing VA 652 and starting the climb up Fullhardt Knob, I stopped to eat the apple I was carrying to get that extra pound off of my back. While I was there, I met a section hiker named Major Tom, that had just started in Daleville. He was walking slowly, having just started, but I immediately liked this fellow, and hope to run into him again down the trail.
The climb up Fullhardt Knob was on a nice, gentle grade, but the temperature was getting very warm and I was soon soaked in sweat. Once at the summit, I decided to stop at the Fullhardt Knob Shelter to cool off, get some water, and eat. This shelter has the most unique water source I have seen on the trail. There is a collection system that collects rain water from the roof of the shelter, and directs the water to a cistern. I was happy to be able to get a drink, since the next water source is nearly four miles away.
The climb down was smooth sailing, and passed through lovely patches of blooming rhododendron. In what seemed like no time at all, I arrived at the Wilson Creek Shelter where I met Goodlife. Goodlife is a recent high school graduate from Asheville, who had been holed up in the shelter for two days suffering from what he would not call Norovirus. He told me that he had slept for almost 24 hours, and was feeling much better now. Having not seen anyone for two days, he was very talkative, but I politely broke off the conversation and set up my tent about 30 yards away. Then I thoroughly washed my hands.