Day 19

Just as it was getting dark last night I heard the rumbling of thunder and flashes of lightening on the other side of the hill. I scrambled out of my tent to tighten up my guy lines and close the doors. It’s started to down pour about 10 minutes later. The lighting was getting closer. The wind picked up and the water started splashing back on my mesh doors. I scooted to the middle of the tent to keep my sleeping bag dry. I saw a flash of fire through my paper thin tent roof as a lightning struck no more than 100 yards away. Then a deafening crack. I hoped the next strike would pick tree over my 3 foot aluminum trekking poles holding up my tent. After 30 minutes the storm had passed over leaving a cool night for sleeping.

I opened my eyes about 7am and stayed in bed til 8:30. I felt terrible, again. What happened to the fun? Warren Doyle likes to say the trail isn’t fun, it’s a job and it is only when you accept that the trail is inherently hard then it can be fun. All but two hikers were still there. My body forced me to go slow. I trudged down past the shelter to the water source. Climbed back up with 2 liters and retrieved my food bag from the tree. Walked back up to my tent and ate a snack bar. I stuffed my things into my pack and was out of camp by 10. 7 miles to the hostel was all I had to do today even though I was toying with trying to make it to the next shelter 7 miles more.

The hike started with a gradual 1000 foot climb on a graded dirt path. Once I hit 2300 feet the trail turned into a pile of rocks climbing up 900 more feet.

The day was already hot by 11, at least 80 degrees in the shade. The only water source for this 7 mile stretch was back at the shelter so I was carrying more weight than I like to. I was constantly scanning for snakes since I knew rattlers liked to hang out in rock clusters. Luckily I didn’t see any.

The trail turned to rocks as I climbed higher toward the day’s pinnacle which was Dragons Tooth a popular day hike destination at 2939 feet. The climb down was the toughest yet. Scrambling on hands and knees over sheets of rock down to VA Route 624 loosing 1000 feet in elevation.

At the road I walked half a mile to the Four Pines Hostel where my Mom had sent a resupply box. There was no way I could hike to the next shelter so I signed up for a bunk. I caught a shuttle to The Homeplace, an all you can eat family style restaurant with country cookin’. Some of the best food I’ve ever eaten. I waited for an hour with Lex and Pumpkin for a table.

We returned to the hostel at about 6:30 and I settled in for the night. I did my laundry (it has been a week) and socialized with a few hikers. I would not recommend this hostel. Very dirty and creepy dudes. I was very anxious to get out of there in the morning.

Miles: 697.3 – 703.9 (6.6)

Total: 209.4