For the second morning in a row, I woke up with a wet tarp and dry tent. The rain had stopped, so I jumped up and packed in 30 minutes. I pulled down the bear bags and filled my three liter dromedary for breakfast needs. We heated water for coffee, oatmeal, and Mio’s tea. I also made a liter of Gatorade for the trail. The sun came out through the heavy cloud cover.
I had a liter of water in the dromedary when we left the campsite at 8:45. Our destination was the Jenkins shelter at 19.1 miles. In the Guidebook, many of the miles in the afternoon look flat, followed by a two mile downhill drop.
I hiked by myself most of the day, except for the first hour or two, so I heard a lot of my playlist. At 12:30, I grabbed two liters of water from a piped spring and caught up with Tandem and Mio in the Chestnut Knob shelter for lunch. There was a great view from the field.
We AT&T customers found that we had signal! I sent my blog update for yesterday with 10MB of pictures. I was the last to leave the shelter, and I dropped a ways before climbing back up to the “flat”, easy looking, seven mile stretch. It wasn’t. It was very rocky and up and down. Can’t trust the Guidebook.
I found a Geocache along the trail in an area that that the Biltmores had considered for the Biltmore House. They settled for Asheville. I grabbed a hiking travel bug from the cache to move along,
I arrived at the Jenkins shelter at 19:00 and found Tandem and Mio just finishing setting up. Tandem had pulled her left shin and hurt it, slowing them down for the two mile downhill. She had me look at it to compare to the other shin, but I saw no size difference.
While Tandem cooked dinner, I set up my tent. We were tired, but we joined the others at the shelter picnic table for card games and a fire. It was getting chilly following the three days of rain.
Our goal is still to make Woods Hole Hostel by mid-day Sunday, which is now 45 miles away. We may hike 24 miles tomorrow if the flat area is easier than today.
A 21 mile day! Our first one over 20 miles! And that included a two-hour trip in hitch-hiking in and out of Bland, VA, for lunch at DQ.
The day started with an early rising sun over low mountains in the Jenkins shelter campsite. We have started avoiding sleeping in shelters due to a cloud of Norovirus reported to be traveling northbound on the trail behind us as far north as Damascus now. That is at mile 463, and we are at mile 596 tonight.
To get here, we hiked up 600 feet to 3000 feet and remained within 100 feet of that elevation for most of the day. We did drop to the beautiful Laurel Creek and a well-constructed bridge over it, where we took a break for pictures.
Then we climbed 700 feet back up to 3100 feet and stayed close to that for seven miles to US 52. Along the way, we passed a decapitated chipmunk spread out on a big log in the middle of the trail, which we blamed on a snake.
Even with that, once we reached US 52, we decided to go into Bland for lunch at DQ. We lucked out, and a section hiking group was shuffling vehicles at that spot and agreed to take us into town. By the time we got going, we had eight hikers with packs and three family members in a large conversion van headed into town. We joked that it felt like a clown car as we unloaded at DQ.
We enjoyed burgers and Oreo and cheesecake Blizzards while charging our devices. After buying a few food necessities at the attached Kangaroo store, five of us were out on the road trying to hitch back to the trail. It was tough around the I-77 intersection to find a ride, so we crossed the bridge toward Bland and stuck out our thumbs. A friendly guy who was shuttling hikers from that area to the AT picked us up and we were back on the trail by 14:30. It was interesting walking the road for about a mile down to, over, and along I-77 until we climbed back into the woods.
We passed the Helveys Mill shelter at mile 589.2 and opted to use the good weather and rolling trail at 3000 feet to move seven more miles northward to a creek, which we made into a temporary campsite. That gave us 21 miles for the day.
Tomorrow we plan on hiking about 18 miles to a stream or spring that will accommodate our merry little band of five hikers with three tents and Tandem’s hammock. That will leave us six miles on Sunday morning to our nero stay at the Woods Hole Hostel. That hostel is owned by relatives of Danny and Queenie Ross of Dunwoody, GA.