Day 70, 5/9/15
Start: VA Hwy 311
Finish: Lamberts Meadow Shelter
Miles Hiked: 10.4
Miles To Go: 1470.8
Overall Miles Hiked: 718.4
Crawdad and I woke up around 7:30 and headed down to the hotel lobby for their breakfast. This was the last “town” food I would be able to get for a while, so I hit the eggs, biscuits, sausage and waffles hard! Our bags were packed and we still had a few hours before the shuttle was coming to pick us up, so we just relaxed. It was very nice, but not long enough! These past two weeks have been amazing. When I told my mom and dad that I’d be hiking the A.T. this year, my dad looked at me immediately and said, “Two weeks, I can join you for two weeks.” Whenever I would see my dad before I left, we would talk about our future hike – when we would meet, where would we be, what gear we will need, what will we see? Our plans changed several times, but one thing remained strong – Dad’s promise to hike with me for two weeks.
Since the day I left on March 1st, I’ve been looking forward to these two weeks and the time I would be able to spend with my dad. Now that it’s over, I’m kinda sad. I’m big on family and I miss everyone back home a lot, more than I thought. Don’t get me wrong, I’m determined to see the face of Katahdin before the faces of most my family and friends, but I miss everyone back home. The good news is that I get to see my wife in two weeks, so now I have that to look forward to! I’ll be meeting her in D.C. for a quick getaway since the trail passes nearby. I get to speak with her every 4 to 5 days, which is more than I thought, but I miss being able to give her a hug and I really miss our high-five I love yous! (Inside joke.)
So, before I move on to how my hike went today, I’d like to say: Thanks for coming up here, dad. I love you and I had a great time. And to Leigh: I miss your face and can’t wait to see you in a couple of weeks!
Now, on to business. The shuttle picked us up and brought Crawdad to the airport. We said our goodbyes and not long after, I was back on the trail. I hiked this section a few days ago, but didn’t count the mileage in my total. With today being a weekend day, the trail up to McAfee Knob was packed. I was passing groups of day hikers left and right. They must have thought I was crazy! I hit McAfee Knob for the second time and stayed just long enough to get another picture. After only a minute or so, I moved out. Someone asked, “Leaving so soon?” I replied, “Yes, ma’am, I have to get to Maine. Have a great day!” And with that, I was gone. I would have loved to see her face – I’ve found that many day hikers we meet on the A.T. have no idea they can follow the white blazes all the way to Maine.
After another few miles, I arrived at Tinker Cliffs where the trail follows an open cliff for half a mile – Awesome hike and even better views! Over the last week, I’ve had some of the best views since the Smokies and more importantly, I’ve had the best weather to enjoy them!
I pulled myself into camp and said hello to the one guy at the shelter. He said, “Thank God, I thought for a while I was going to have to sleep here alone!” I thought this was pretty funny, I thought it was even funnier when I told him I was going to sleep in my tent down by the stream…about 50 yards away. He said there was plenty of room in the shelter – I moved on. At dinner, I spoke with him a little more. He just got into hiking and is out in the woods for just for the weekend. He seemed pretty worried about bears, I assured him that as long as he doesn’t use his food bag as a pillow, he would be just fine. After talking bears, camping and more bears, I excused myself and turned in early. For his sake, I hope someone else comes into camp!
Day 71, 5/10/15
Start: Lamberts Meadow Shelter
Finish: Daleville, VA
Miles Hiked: 9.4
Miles To Go: 1461.4
Overall Miles Hiked: 727.8
I woke up to the sound of laughter. I put my shoes on and walked up to the shelter. The guy scared of bears, now named Bear Bait, was talking to two other guys who came into the shelter late last night; they were all laughing. I asked what was going on, here is the story:
Bear Bait was just about to get into his tent when the two other hikers showed up. The three guys talked for a bit and then everyone turned in – Bear Bait in his tent just outside the shelter, the two other guys in the shelter. Around 1:00AM, Bear Bait wakes up and hears something moving around outside. He convinces himself it is a bear trying to get into his food bag that was hung up in a tree. He starts yelling, “Get! Get out of here bear!” Apparently, this happened 2 or 3 times throughout the night. In the morning, Bear Bait asked the other two guys if they saw or heard the bear. They said, “No, but we thought you were having a nightmare!” It turns out, one of the guys sleeping in the shelter was sleeping on a Tyvek groundsheet. Groundsheets are put on the shelter floor first and the sleeping bag is laid on top, which helps to keep your sleeping bag clean. Well, Tyvek can be really loud. Every time the guy moved, Bear Bait would hear the crinkling Tyvek and start yelling at his bear! This has got to be one of the funnier things I’ve heard so far! After a few more laughs, I was on my way.
Over the past few weeks, my feet have been absolutely killing me at the end of the day. I have heard that hikers’ feet can swell up to a full size larger than when they started and I think this has happened to me! On top of that, one of my boot buckles has snapped off and now on the downhills my foot slides forward, cramming in the toe box – not comfortable! I decided I just can’t hike much further in these boots, so I was going into Daleville, VA to try to get this matter resolved. The trail goes right through town and a quick 1/2 mile walk will bring you right to the outfitter there. My plan was to hit the outfitter up for new boots, eat a quick lunch, then get back on the trail. Unfortunately, the outfitter was closed on Sundays. I walked over to a BBQ joint and ate a pulled pork sandwich while I debated what to do. Daleville would be my last opportunity to shower and sleep in a bed for the next 10 days. I decided to get a cheap room for the night – It didn’t take much convincing!
I called my mom to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day. We talked about hiking and said our I miss yous. I checked into my room, washed some clothes in the sink and got into bed…where I didn’t plan on leaving until tomorrow morning.