Day 78- 6.7.15Fancy Pants: We hiked 8.7 miles today (727.8-736.5). We used leftovers from last night’s dinner to make breakfast this morning. Potatoes, veggies and added a few eggs. I was aiming to be on the trail by noon, but by the time everyone got their stuff together, it was 12:15. We stopped by Chris and Elyse’s house to pick up Fuego’s trekking poles, then headed back to Daleville.
The hike was relatively flat for the first few miles. We started the climb to the next shelter and thankfully, it wasn’t too steep. This is the first shelter I’ve seen with a rain gutter and rain catchment system. We got water from the cistern behind the shelter, but it was yellowish and smelly, so we decided to dump it. Hiking down from the shelter, my knees were killing me. I wish I’d gotten a new, smaller knee brace while we were in town. A gentle slope isn’t bad, but my knees start to hurt when there’s a lot of rocks or if the hill is steep.
On the way to the next shelter, we ran into Goldilocks, Toasty, Downhill and Freestyle. We hung out for a bit, then decided not to continue hiking on to the next shelter. We made dinner at the fire, then headed down to the creek to find a camp spot for the tent. It was great to see everyone again! Tonight was also our first night sleeping in the tent without our sleeping bags (we used our sleeping bag liners and shared the fleece blanket).
Day 79- 6.8.15
Fancy Pants: We hiked 19.5 miles today (736.5-756). We were up and on the trail by 7:45. We got to a gap on the Blue Ridge Parkway and ran into Downhill, El Mundo and Spaghetti. El Mundo’s girlfriend was in town and they were all yellow blazing to Jennings Creek to go to the swimming hole. We’re hardos, so we had to walk (pronounced hard-ohs. Hikers that don’t skip miles, don’t yellow blaze, hike a lot of miles and allegedly don’t have any fun on the trail. We have fun. Still hardos.). A few minutes in, we realized we missed the perfect opportunity for a slackpack! The terrain wasn’t too bad, so we didn’t fret.
So this may sound lame, but the most exciting part about hiking along the BRP is the trashcans! There are bear-proof trash cans at a lot of the overlooks, and I know I’m not the only hiker that was excited to see them 🙂 (there’s also nice views at the overlooks 😉
When we got to Jennings Creek, I took off my socks and shoes and waded in the water in my crocs. Ah, so refreshing! When I got out, I grabbed my gear and turned to go up the little hill and slipped in my wet croc and fell forward. My shoes went flying and I busted my knee open and bruised my hand and leg. It probably would have been funny to see in slow motion, but it hurt pretty bad. We ate dinner by the fire then went to bed.
Fancy Pants: We hiked 16.6 miles today (756-773.2). I think Fuego and I both woke up on the wrong side of the bed. We were camped at less than 1,000ft and had to climb first thing in the morning. Ordinarily, the 2,000 ft elevation gain wouldn’t have been so bad because one of us is usually able to be positive and help ye other one along. Not today. We were just hot and not into it. We each hiked with music and were happy when we finished for the day.
Fancy Pants: We hiked 11.4 miles today (773.2-784.6). We woke up early today to a story from Sgt Mothballs and Hooter. They were at the previous shelter last night and were woken up by a bear around 10pm. They packed up and basically ran the three miles to our campsite- glad we decided to push on last night! We hiked kind of fast today because we were excited to get to Glasgow. We saw our first rattlesnake today on the side of the trail. It was coiled up and I’m not sure I would have seen it if Downhill hadn’t spotted it first.
We crossed the James River Foot Bridge today. Downhill wanted to jump off, but wanted confirmation that it’s deep enough first. Some Forest Service workers we ran into said that others have jumped off, but that it is now illegal to do so. Glad we decided against it, although I like to think that I would have done it if Downhill did!
Glasgow, VA is a small town, but they are hiker friendly. A Boy Scout group built a pavilion in town for hikers with electrical outlets and bunks. There’s also a porta-potty and and outdoor shower (with hot water!). Camping there is free. There aren’t any other accommodations in town, so I guess this is how they get hikers to stop by. We are lunch at the only restaurant in town- Scotto’s. They had a deal of a large pizza for $6.50. We all split that and got something else.
Fancy Pants: (784.6-806.4). That’s right- we hiked 21.8 miles today! Our first 20 miler!! The day started off kind of slow. We hitched a ride to the trail with a guy who lives in his Jeep in the woods. He hiked the trail back in the 70s. Pretty cool guy. We were on the trail by 10:15 and it was already hot. And like most town stops, we had to climb to leave town. Fuego and I bought these caffeine breath mints at Dollar General in town After Fuego ate one and didn’t die (and confirmed that I could eat one without bouncing off the walls), I ate half of one. They taste like Binaca and chewable Tylenol, but man do they work! Today was also my first day hiking in just a sports bra. It was so hot that even my wrists were sweating. Does my wrist even work that hard?!?
There were some great views on the trail today, but we didn’t stop for very long because we were rationing water all day. We had 9 miles up and down mountains without any water sources. Freestyle got everyone excited talking about Burger King chicken nuggets ($1.49 for 10 is kind of exciting) at our water break. That turned into everyone committing to another 10 miles at 4pm to get to Rte 60) to hitch into Buena Vista (yep, the same rte 60 we used to live off of in Newport News!). I’m not gonna lie. I was hoping that everyone had stopped at the shelter two miles from the road. I did not want to hike up that hill!
We made it to the road and all squished into the back of a small pickup truck. I had a sub from Subway and some fries from BK – best of both worlds 🙂 We split a motel room with Downhill, Toasty, Freestyle and Spaghetti.
Fancy Pants: We hiked 13.3 miles today (806.4-819.7). We milked our time at the hotel. Fuego tried (unsuccessfully) to hitch a ride to CVS to get me a knee brace, so he walked there and back. 95 degrees today. It took us over 30 minutes to get a hitch back to the trail! I though for sure that it would be easy since it was so hot and the road we were on was pretty busy.
Thankfully, we had some light rain in the afternoon and the humidity went away. Fuego and I finally reached a place in the trail that we’ve been to before! The junction of the Hotel Trail and the turn off to Elk Pond Branch. We went backpacking here last year for our anniversary. We also hung out at the rock outcropping we went to last year during the same trip. We ended up camping at a less than ideal spot, only because we were running out of daylight and didn’t want to set up and eat when it was totally dark outside.
Fancy Pants: We hiked 21.1 miles today (819.7-840.8). We decided to wake up early today and hike before it gets unbearably hot, siesta, then hike again in the late afternoon. The breeze when we started hiking was nice and the shade from the trees made it even better. I hiked with Toasty and Fuego hiked with Downhill. Toasty and I discussed our decreased hiker appetite compared to when our appetites first kicked in. I’m not sure if our bodies are adjusting to the new normal level of daily activity or if the heat has something to do with it.
Spy rock early in the morning was awesome- 360 degree views and windy! We stopped to get water at The Priest Shelter and forgot to write a confession in the shelter log! We hiked up The Priest Mountain and were surprised to find out that we had hiked most of the way up mountain on the way to the shelter! We hiked the 3+ miles downhill to the Tye River and our siesta spot.
We ran into Milo, a 2011 thru-hiker from Richmond doing trail magic for the weekend. He made pork barbecue sandwiches or tofu or tempeh sandwiches for the vegetarians. We took a dip in the river after lunch to cool off. While we were there, Scott Jurek too a break at the river too! He is attempting to break the speed record for hiking the AT with assistance (he has a team with him with an RV where he sleeps and they meet him to give him food, water, gear, etc.). We didn’t want to like him, but he was really personable and was really nice to all of us kind of star-struck hikers. He is aiming to complete the trail in 44 days, hoping to summit Katahdin on July 5th.
We started the hike up Three Ridges at 3:45. It was so hot. Like, unbearably hot. Even after our break in the water, we were so hot we were 100% sweaty. It sucked. We saw a few nice views which softened the blow, but the climb was just brutal. When we were climbing switchbacks about a mile from the top, I slipped on a rock and broke my fall with my hands and busted my wrist. Sweaty, dirty and bleeding and pretty miserable. Even the 2.6 miles down to the shelter from the summit felt like an eternity. We got to the shelter a little after 8. We debated with others whether this was the most difficult climb so far or of the climb out of Nantahala Outdoor Center was. Initially, I was thinking the climb from NOC was more difficult, but I definitely think climbing Three Ridges in 90+ degree weather and Virginia humidity was more difficult. We washed off, set up camp, ate dinner and went to bed.
Fancy Pants: We hiked 20.9 miles today (840.8-861.7). I woke up feeling like the tin man before he was oiled up. Creaky joints and sore feet. We decided to stick with the plan to hike to Waynesboro today anyways. Thankfully, the trail today did not have elevation changes as drastic as yesterday! We did have some rocky trail today, so we took it slow to give our feet a break. We crossed the BRP a few more times today. So we saw some nice views (and trashcans :). We took a long break at the Paul C. Wolf shelter, about 5 miles south of 64. We sat on rocks with our feet dipped in the cold water And it helped a lot. At the trailhead in Waynesboro, there is a list of people who will give hikers free rides into town. “Southerner” gave us a ride to Subway/Arby’s and then dropped us off at the laundromat.
We camped at the ALDHA (Appalachian Long Distance Hiker Association) pavilion and campground in town. Because we arrived so late on a Sunday evening, the YMCA was closed, so we will have to wait to take showers in the morning. Waynesboro is pretty cute. I think it could be a contender for a place to live, assuming we could find jobs there.
Also, we’ve finally reach a 10 miles per day average! We estimated finishing with a 13 miles per day average, so we have some catching up to do!