We were only able to cover 10 miles today, even though we started at 9 am and walked until after 4 pm. The miles are generally slow on the AT and today was a particularly challenging day. We started with a climb up Blood Mountain, at 4400 feet the highest point we will see for a few weeks. (The place names are colourful in this area: we climbed Blood Mountain from our camp at Slaughter Creek, before finishing the day at a campsite at Hogpen Gap.). There is a beautiful stone AT shelter on the top of Blood Mountain, built in 1934 it must be one of the oldest on the AT. The remainder of the day was a series of climbs and descents, the former aggravating the blister on my heel and the latter inflaming the numerous blisters on Bruce's toes.
There is a dearth of good water sources on this stretch of the AT, creating challenges for camping. We did find a spring at Hogpen Gap and as a result we are wild camping here. We are trying to avoid the legendary stench of the AT hiker by bathing whenever possible. We used our single cooking pot to dump the spring water over our heads, sudsed up, and rinsed with the same pot. All of this was done some distance from the water source to avoid contaminating it. Bathing was a bit of a problem because the water was quite cool, but afterwards we felt human again. And we smell so good the locals may not believe we are AT hikers.