“I’m in the Canaan Valley, sitting by a stream soaking my feet, and it feels really good!” said Laura Finch on Day 14 of her hike on the Allegheny Trail.

Here is her full report:

“I don’t have any blisters, but my feet are a bit sore. I got one blister when I first started, but it finally turned into a callous. My feet have actually been pretty good.

“Glad I’m allowed to use hotels along the way. Last night Shiloh and I stayed at the Canaan Valley Resort Lodge in the state park. It was so nice. I ate in the restaurant – a pork chop dinner. A far cry from the usual energy bars and jerky.

“The lodge was the third hotel we’ve stayed at during these two weeks, so it’s not like I’ve been completely cut off from civilization.

“I’ve had my cell phone – although I’ve had trouble keeping it charged – so I could make calls and send and get messages, at least sometimes. And I stopped in at Rowlesburg and Davis to get my mail and supplies,” she said.

But, basically, for the past two weeks, it’s just been Laura and Shiloh – sleeping in their tent along the way. Although they did spend one night in a shelter on Canaan Mountain.

The pair haven’t covered as much ground as planned, but all in all, Laura says she’s pleased with their progress.

“We had a lot of road walking and big mountains to climb,” Finch said. “I’m going to try to do about 10 miles a day from here on out.

“Shiloh is a champ. In the forest, she runs circles around me.

“We’ve heard two bears so far, and let me tell you, a bear sounds like the biggest person you ever heard crashing through the woods. We heard one when we were walking, and one night we heard a bear when we were camping. Shiloh scared it off. She started barking. You know your dog’s barks and how they sound different for different things.

“This was a really serious bark. She ran a little way from camp, but thank goodness she didn’t go out of sight and she came back okay. So, I guess she scared it off.

“And I haven’t seen any scary snakes – just one little garter snake.

“A guy on an ATV drove down past us as we were headed up a mountain and he said, ‘I hope you have a rock or a stick or something, because I just saw a mountain lion.’

“I wasn’t completely convinced he wasn’t just trying to scare me, you know, just giving me a hard time, but I kept my eyes open, and we slept on that mountain that night without seeing any mountain lions.

“My three weeks is up at the end of the week, so we’re going to be picked up this Sunday, regardless of how far we’ve gotten.

“I hope we can at least make it to Durbin. But I’d really like to make it to Huntersville. That would get me to within 100 miles of my original goal.

“Whatever part of the trail we haven’t finished, I’ve decided I want to get back and do it another time.”

We’ll check in with Finch next week after she leaves the Allegheny Trail and returns home to Pocahontas County to get back to lawyering in Marlinton.

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