Early in the morning I heard some hollering traveling up the trail. I assumed it was a group of thru hikers making their way up for the sunrise. It was startling none the less. I heard Bob unzip his tent at 5. He went to get our food bags out of the bear locker and dropped mine at my tent. Our goal was the leave at 7. I got up at 6 and was packed up by 6:30 and eating a snack bar for breakfast.
McAfee Knob was a short hike up and we arrived by 7:45 well after sunrise. The lighting was a bit harsh but there was no one up there. We took each other’s picture and we were off. Hiking in the morning was pleasant and the trail was forgiving. Bob likes to talk. He asked me questions as we walked and I tried my best to ask questions back but I was in front and it’s kind of hard to have a conversation when I have to keep turning around to say something and look at the trail for hazards. Also once my foot pain begins, I’m not a very good conversation partner.
We had two big climbs today and it was heating up. Bob scolded me for not talking very much. The climbing seemed to be never ending. We reached the second viewpoint, Tinker Cliffs, about 11. My idea was the stop at the next shelter Lambert’s Meadow which would make 8 miles for me. We made a lunch stop at the shelter and discussed going further. It was only noon and the elevation map didn’t look too bad into Daleville. I could get my new shoes and get a full day’s rest at the Super 8. It was 9.5 miles to town and I thought I could make it.
As we were getting ready to leave a family came in. Two girls about 11 and 12, a boy maybe 7 years old and a mom and dad. They all had they hiked tags and we learned they did indeed walk all the way from Georgia with the goal to finish in Maine. They had just seen a huge rattlesnake a mile up the trail. The boy showed me a picture. It looked like it had just eaten. I was grateful I didn’t stumble upon it.
Bob and I set off for town about 1. The temperature was inching closer to 90 now. My fun meter was tanking. I was walking too far again. The lure of town and a hiking companion did me in. With 3 miles to go I was miserable. I shuffled down the ridge line passing several power line towers. Some of the ridge was exposed to the sun and I could feel my clothes soaking through with sweat. I have never smelled this bad.
We finally begin our descent into town. I use my trekking poles to lean on with every step. The pain is worse than ever and I long for the day to be over. All of a sudden I hear the roar of traffic and we stumble out of the woods onto highway 220, a four lane that feeds into Roanoke. Half a mile to the Super 8. I check in, put on my new shoes, go wash up and return to the lobby for an Uber ride to the Country Cookin buffet with Bob. I instantly feel better with the first sip of sweet tea. I order a chopped steak and Bob gives me his chicken strips since he’s vegetarian. We pig out for an hour and then back to the hotel for an early night looking forward to a zero day tomorrow.
Mile: 711.9 – 729.7 (17.8)