The second of two zero days in Daleville, VA. We woke up later today than yesterday, showered, and went down for the sucky HoJo’s continental breakfast.
Afterwards, we went back to the hotel room and packed our packs. We inventoried our food and decided that we only needed chicken and tuna for a couple of Ramen meals and more baby wipes. We checked out with our packs on our backs and threw some unnecessary items in the hotel hiker box.
We “hiked” down to the Mill Mountain Coffee and Tea store. We put down our packs, and Tandem went in to grab a corner seat to work on blogs and enjoy her coffee, while I went across the street and found a Geocache then went Krogering.
We stayed at the coffee shop for the rest of the day. We had lunch, coffee and milkshakes while we waited for Christopher and Ron to arrive at 17:00. While we waited, other thru hikers came and left, and we swapped stories and enjoyed meeting hikers that are ahead of us.
Around 17:00, Christopher texted Tandem that they were in the parking lot. They saw us and drove up in MY Trailblazer. I was very surprised to see it! We greeted and hugged and loaded our packs into the back of the SUV, which had everything from Christopher’s Villanova dorm room in it.
We drove across I-81 to Troutville and checked into the Holiday Inn Express. It was so much nicer than the HoJo’s, and the beds were higher. Tandem grabbed a picture of me soaking in the best hotel room we had been in on the AT. After we settled in, we went out for a great dinner at the Cracker Barrel Country Store.
Back at the hotel, we backed up the pictures from our phones onto Christopher’s computer so that we could free up space. I got us pints of ice cream at a convenience store down the street then retired to my enormous bed and fell asleep watching Psych.
We woke in the Troutville Holiday Inn Express and had a fantastic continental breakfast. After breakfast, we loaded up my Trailblazer with our packs and headed out to get back on the AT at Rocky Gap at mile 665.6.
It started to drizzle, so we put on rain jackets and pack covers and said our goodbyes to Christopher and my father in law. Each of them walked a little way up the trail that we were about to hike up, then got back in the vehicle due to the increasing rain. As we hiked straight uphill to Kelly Knob, I could hear the Trailblazer drive away as they headed down to Lake Wylie, SC, where my in-laws live.
We hiked on through off and on rain. I kept changing the configuration of my raincoat with the arm vents, the front, the sleeves, and hood. Three miles in, we came to Laurel Creek shelter where we would have stayed on the evening of day 53. We signed the logbook and had a snack then struck back out to the trail with no goal but to make it as far as my left swollen shin would take us.
We crossed many open pastures and busy VA 42 before reaching the Keiffer Oak. This majestic tree is over 18 feet around and over 300 years old.
Then it was straight uphill again to Bruisers Knob. We opted to pass the Sarver Hollow shelter since my shin wasn’t in pain, plus the shelter is .4 miles off the AT. We hiked on along what was actually a flat portion of the trail in VA, but was heavy with large wet rocks. We were slowed by the slippery rocks and both slipped down at least one. It tired us, and my shin was affected by the struggle across the rocks.
Once we started going downhill, we both began looking for a spot to “cowboy camp”, rather than trying to make it to the Niday shelter, 2.5 miles “downhill”. I found an excellent spot just above the east side of the trail for us to camp in at about mile 678.5. Coincidentally, it had stopped raining. We enjoyed setting up our sleeping quarters without anyone else around. It was peaceful.
I got in my tent at 16:00 due to being tired and crashed for a four hours. When I woke up I was nauseous and had a raging case of the runs. On the third return to my tent, I told Tandem I was sick. She was very concerned and wondered with me what to do. I decided to wait the night out at this pseudo campsite since we were alone and because it was four miles “downhill” to VA 621.
Tandem started corresponding with Mio, who had suffered from these symptoms, including severe dehydration, a couple of days earlier. He wished me well and offered for his father to pick us up, since they were together while he recovered in Salem, VA. I thanked him while Tandem was also corresponding with her brother Christopher in Lake Wylie about the option of picking us up in the morning.
It was a long, sick night.