Day 43 – Daleville, Virginia – Stealth Camp – ~19 miles
It was nice to sleep in a bed last night and I slept in until about 8:30. I got up, got my bag together, then walked down to Mill Mountain Coffee and Tea for some breakfast. When I got there I ran into Bo, Gabe, Spaceship, Fuego, and Camo and we sat on some couches while I put down two bacon, egg, and cheese bagels, home fries, and two cups of coffee. Nobody was in a rush to get back onto the trail in the morning, but eventually everyone left and I stayed until 11:30 catching up on some reading and writing. There was a Super Cuts in the plaza the coffee shop was in so I went in and got my beard trimmed. I have been trying to embrace all of what it means to be “hiker trash” out here on this journey, but sometimes being dirty, smelly, and unkept doesn’t appeal to me. Shaving made me feel fresh and “clean”. I eventually got on the trail around 1 o’clock. It was perfect weather today and I really enjoyed the hike. The breeze kept the sun from being too overpowering and would cool me down when I would stop and take water breaks. I didn’t see many people out on the trail today which is nice on occasions. The first shelter was just 5 miles away so I passed that and eventually got to another one 11 miles away around 5 o’clock. I stopped to make some Ramen because I was so hungry and ate at the table with Fine Print, a thru hiker from England, and two section hikers. I ate the ramen quickly, not because I was in a rush, but because I was so ravenous haha and then I was back on my way. The next shelter was 7 miles away so I figured I would be able to get there before it got completely dark. I had a good pace going, but the trail kept following and intersecting with the Blue Ridge Parkway which has such amazing views. You could see the layers of mountains out in the distance and all of the houses and farmland in the valley. Every time I had an open view I would stand there and admire it and then keep on moving. Eventually I thought to myself that if I don’t stop looking at all the views then I won’t make it to the shelter before it’s dark, so I got back a solid pace and made it to the shelter by 8:40 which actually still had some light. I went down to fill up my water and saw F Word there as well. I talked for a minute with him and then decided to night hike just until I found a good place to camp. About a mile later the trail brought me back out onto the road and one of the Blue Ridge Parkway view points and I decided to put up my tent on a patch of grass a little off the road. It’s a beautiful night so I set up my tent, but left my rain fly off so I could look up at the stars. I’m so lucky to be out here. It’s amazing.
Day 44 – Stealth Camp – Stealth Camp – 24.3 miles
I woke up early this morning, but to be able to look outside of my tent and have such an incredible view made me pumped to start the day. I decided to wait until I hit a water source to have breakfast, so I packed up everything and was on the trail by 7:15. It was sunny and cool from the wind, but that made it great for hiking. The first people I saw was a group of hikers coming southbound who were slack-packing. Slack-packing is a term for hikers that have their packs driven up the trail however many miles and then hike to their pack with nothing on their backs. After that I passed a hiker who kindly offered me a strawberry and I gladly accepted. It’s always nice to have fresh fruit out here whenever it’s possible. The trail for the first 13 miles kept switching from woods to ridge line which gave me some really nice views whenever I was on the ridge. One part of the ridge I bumped into F Word who was sitting on a rock on the phone. He was catching up with his family so I said hi, talked briefly, then was on my way. Around 2 o’clock I stopped at a shelter to eat and met Coach, who was out doing a section from Demascus to the Shenendoahs. He’s an elementary school P.E. teacher and we had a nice talk before he moved up the trail. I was pretty ravenous when I got to the shelter so I had two bagels with tuna and avocado, cheese and crackers, a snickers, and a Krispy Kreme cherry pie. Absolutely devoured it. After my body was full with fuel, I set out back on the trail and got my mind ready for the climb ahead. The trail had a 3,500 foot elevation gain over the next 5 miles so that just meant a lot of walking up hill. I worked up a sweat immediately and really had to push myself mentally and physically to keep going. It was tough, but I kept putting one foot in front of the other and eventually I made it to the top. From there it was another 6 miles to the shelter, but the uphill was over and it was mostly flat and downhill. I got to the shelter at about 7:45 and bumped into Spaceship, Fuego, Camo, and a hiker I just met named Underpass. They wanted to camp along the ridge just a mile down so I decided to join them because I thought it would be cool to catch the sunset. When I got to the ridge I met a nice couple who were watching the sunset and celebrating their 53 year anniversary. They were so nice and friendly and I joined them as the sun set and did not disappoint. Before they left they gave me a pretty much full rotisserie chicken and some coleslaw and I ate all of it after I set up my tent. It was such a good day and I met a bunch of nice people.
Day 45 – Stealth Camp – Johns Hollow Shelter – 14.9
Sleeping in my tent is always nice and I got another great nights sleep. I think sleep is really important out here for recovery and I’ve noticed whenever I have a full nights sleep the next day I always feel fresh. By the time I was up and getting ready, Fuego, Spaceship, and Underpass were also up and moving. We all got ready and headed out around 8 o’clock. We stopped at the first water source and I freshened up for the day and made my breakfast. I also put down a liter of water because today was going to be HOT and I knew that I would be sweating a ton. The morning started with a big climbs which definitely got my heart rate up and sweat started dripping down my face. Up, down, up, down was the pattern for the day. We stopped at another water source about 5 miles from the first and met a 75 year old hiker named Lock. We talked for a while and he was excited for us and what we were doing and then we were on our way. The trail started with a climb and then from there went down all the way until we got to the James River. At about 2 o’clock we were down by the river and there was a 200 ft bridge we had to cross. The bridge was about 20 ft high and the water was very deep, so me, Fuego, and Spaceship each took turns jumping into the water and cooled off. It was so refreshing and ended up jumping off a couple times. After the bridge was a road where we tried to hitch a ride 6 miles into town. After about 20 minutes with no luck, a section hikers got down to the parking lot and we ended up getting a ride from him. The town was Glasgow, Virginia, a very small town with a post office, one restaurant, and a Dollar General. The first thing we did was get some food at the restaurant where I ate a salad, garlic bread, chicken parmigiana with spaghetti, a slice of pizza, and an Italian sub. After we ate we went to the shelter in the park that the town made for hikers and was able to take an outdoor shower! After the shower we went to the Dollar General it “D G” as they say down south and got food for the next 5 days. Finding a ride back to the trail was easy and then we hike 1.7 to the shelter where we set up our tents and hammocks for the night! Short day today so getting ready for a nice long day tomorrow!