After Pearisburg and the blow of Patch and Sully not returning while Caveman was caught in Trail limbo, it was rough going. It rained for only a bit on our way outta town but it was just enough to get our boots soaked. The main problem with that being they wouldn't dry for two days causing some pretty awful sores on the back of my heels. It's hasn't been uncommon throughout the entire Trail seeing people with a bunch of duct tape on the back of foot trying to prevent further pain. We went three months, just about, not having to do such a thing. Next thing we know, it's apart of the morning routine. It was and still is quite bad. Anyway, the Trail has still not been nearly as flat as we were somehow lead to believe months ago via rumors. The day after that rain the Trail turned into extremely jagged rock. It was like the maintenance crew intentionally made it difficult. Not a flat step to be found making it that much harder so damp and humid outside. It was my first big fall. Feet in the air off the side of a big slippery rock. Fortunately, the camera was not out and I wasn't hurt. Gravity grabs you very quickly when you have 50+ pounds on your back. Thankfully, at the end of that day we came upon Wind Rock. It was a gorgous view and we needed it. We stayed there that night.
The following days consisted of foot pain, fields with millions of ticks and fences, and more uphill/downhill. The temperature was climbing but not terrible. Nevertheless, we were surviving a pumping out some miles. We made it to Catawba for a maildrop in addition to Four Pines Hostel where we reunited with a lot of hikers. Some had been there for days slackpacking all over the place. The owner, Joe Mitchell, converted a 3 bay garage into an awesome hostel that runs on donation on his farm. It was a beautiful place. And he was an awesomely nice guy. He would do anything for hikers. He was giving rides all over the place. He also picked up batteries for us at Walmart which saved us big time. He took all the hikers to The Home Place which was a small restarant that served all-you-can-eat fried chicken, roast beef, pulled pork, baked beans, green beans, mashed potatoes, tea, lemonade, ice cream, and peach cobbler for a 14 dollars. They bring it all to you. The quality was good and it hit the spot. Even Reverie has been eating some meat. She enjoyed too.
We stayed at the hostel that night knowing we needed to get up really early in order to take advantage of a 20 mile slackpacking opportunity the next day. Joe works in Daleville and if you throw your pack in his truck before he leaves at 5:30am he'll drop it off at the Howard Johnson Hotel that you literally walk right up to. 14 hikers took advantage of it. I don't know if he'd ever done that many packs. He looked shocked but he was all about it. Thank you, Joe! So, off the huge group of hikers went. Hitching in 2's and 3's to get to the trailhead. We were the last ones but we were still able to get going at 7:15am. In those 20 miles was McAfee's Knob and Tinker Cliffs. Both were AMAZING and huge landmarks on the Trail. It was the first 20 we had done in a while and even though we didn't have our packs weighing us down, the terrain for some reason still wrecked our feet. When we made it to Daleville, we hopped in a room with Grizzly and Stovves at the hotel. It was a big hiker-friendly establishment. Huge hiker party. It was Soda Pop's birthday and we celebrated. It was a long day and we deserved and needed kick back. Plus, there was a pool!
The next day a lot of hikers continued the partying. We focused on resupplying and taking care of our feet. I didn't know how bad my heels were until some of the hikers were taken back at the site. I got a bunch of mole skin and Lindsay got toe socks and toe sock liners. Daleville was nice. It was a little spread out but not bad. We spent a little too much time there. We actually got to see Caveman, who unfortunately, parted from Belch a day or two before. However, Bumble Bee was with him. It's nice to know we still got some people behind us. We'll see them all soon enough.
We left outta Daleville without Caveman and friends. They stayed there for a zero and I don't blame them. It was a great place to chill and regroup after a tough section. But it sucked saying goodbye again. Our feet were feeling good after some time off of them but by the end of the first day back on the Trail, they were feeling awful again. It's slowed me down so much. The human body isn't made to hike 15+ miles every day. We gotta take care of it at some point.
We didn't have to deal with any rain recently, instead it's the heat. 90+ degrees the last couple days. No breeze, high mountains but we gotta keep going. Drenched the very first thing in the morning. Mornings that we've been waking up extra early for to beat the heat. We are from Louisiana, we should be able to handle this, right?
The library is closing right now. We thought it was gonna close at 4, but nope. It's at 1. So, real quick, I caught my first small small glimpse of a bear running off. Woohoo! However, Reverie had one just trotting along almost right up to her. Scary but exciting. Finally seeing bears! Oh, and wild blueberries everywhere.
So much more stuff but no time! Hopefully I can get some of these pictures on here.
Unusually cruel joke at a shelter in the woods.
First rattler so far. Almost stepped on him.
Cause that's the trail. He's a foot from it. Scared the mess out of me.
Which way to go?
Tinker Cliffs on slack packing day
Stovves, Grizzly, and Soda Pop
Where did all those come from?
Soda Pop and Stovves
Swimming Hole. Jennings Creek
Largest tent of the thruhikers.
200 foot waterfall
Reverie, Mouse, and Shenanigans
Another awesome sunset
Glasgow shelter jambalaya!!! Took a zero on a beautiful Saturday with enough Louisianians to make some amazing Jambalaya. It blew some hikers away.
Fawn. Dog found on trail. True Trail dog.
5:30 from the west bank
The awesome shelter.