I woke up to the dim blue light of the morning seeping in through the small basement window across the room from my bottom bunk. Hikers were milling about prepping their packs for the day. I ate my granola and packed up my day pack. Mike, the other hiker (I didn’t catch their name) and I were off by 8:30. Mike and I talked enthusiastically about bluegrass musicians he knew around Winchester, VA. I was excited to see a Lynn Morris CD in his car and we listened as we drove. We reached the trailhead by 9. I had to walk .25 miles on an overgrown side trail to get to the AT.
The trail was moderate with some rocks but otherwise pleasant. I was overjoyed to be able skip over a shelter in this section called Manassas Gap Shelter. The reviews say copperheads live in the camp fire ring. In the last week I’ve been noticing fallen leaves on the ground beginning to change color. We’re always in a state of transition, right?
About 5 miles in, I began to hear the loud rumble of a highway which was I-66 which leads to DC. I walked right under it and back into the woods. There were a few down trees in the way of the trail I had to climb over today. I’m sure the trail maintainers will be out soon to cut those up.
Since I was walking south today I saw at least 15 thru hikers, a few I knew and a few I didn’t and a few that looked down their noses at me for slackpacking. Shortly after tree hopping, I was rock hopping up the first big climb of the day. The humidity and heat were nearing the upper 80s before lunch. It was rough and I struggled to find the fun. I was very thankful to be traveling light, though.
After the rocks came a wide open field in full sun. I stopped just after at a creek for a lunch break. I was about half way done with my day. The trail coninuted to be a mix of flat dirt path and jagged rocks. At 3pm I decided to detour .3 miles to the Mountain Home B&B that offered free lemonade and cookies to hikers. I failed to take any pictures of it. I was in the fog of heat fatigue and hunger. The B&B looked like it used to be some sort of plantation house built in the mid 1800s complete with a cottage for enslaved workers which they called the “Cabbin”. As I was enjoying my cookies and lemonade in the Cabbin one of the owners came in to say hello and she mentioned she was going to town to pick up her phone that was being repaired. I asked if I could hitch a ride to the grocery. I had no dinner plan and Mike wouldn’t be available to shuttle when I got back so I needed to get some food for the evening. She agreed and didn’t charge me! I ended up getting a salad and a chicken diner. I saw Mike at the grocery rolling out a bag of ice and several cases of beer. He called out to me as he left “take care of the place for me.” I said enjoy the concert, Mike.
By 4:30 I was back on the trail in full sun and heat of the day. Climbed up beside a hay pasture being cut and into a trail overgrown with kudzu. I had 4 miles left and an 1200 foot climb back to the hostel. I passed a side trail to the Northern Virginia 4-H Center. I would have liked to have stopped since I’m a 4th generation 4-Her but it was too late in the day. Soon after I saw a bear running away from my to my left. I blew the airhorn just incase. The climb turned into rocks as the heat was breaking. Near the top, I could smell a privy as I approached a shelter via switchbacks. Finally I looked back to see the privy and a bear snooping around it. I blew the airhorn and it moseyed away. I warned a Northbound hiker heading to that shelter a bear was hanging around.
I finished my day at about 7pm. I returned to the hostel to find two hikers (Amish Built and Muscles Marinara) that arrived to get their resupply boxes they had shipped their. They were all locked up upstairs and Mike wouldn’t be back to give it to them until the next morning. They decided to hike on and find a way to get it later. The other slackpacking hiker ordered take out and watched a cooking show as I heated up leftovers. I repacked my resupply box into my food bag. I had too much food again. It was heavy. I tried to blog until bed time at about 11 o’clock. Tomorrow was going to be a long day with a full pack.
Miles: 984.1 – 967.7 (16.4)