I woke up to my alarm at 6:00 this morning, then packed up and had the tent down by 6:30. I was eating when I heard the rustle of leaves in the distance. It was a family of three deer roaming right by our campsite. I sat still and quiet while they passed, and they didn’t bolt or even seem to notice me. Tandem got up after that, saying that she, too, had let them pass.
We were on the trail by 7:15, and hiked the six miles into Daleville, which was harder than it looked in the trail guide. There were a lot of rocks and climbing. We passed under a few large power lines, one of which had a great view of a lake and the mountains we had hiked on. Eventually we dropped in elevation toward Daleville. We reached a long stretch of level trail, crossed a railroad, and soon came out of the woods at US 220.
We saw the HoJo’s to our right, where we had stayed two weeks earlier for the shin splint. We turned left, instead, and went to Kroger to restock food. Afterward, we went down to the coffee shop. As we approached it, two girls came walking up with a couple of decorated brown paper lunch bags with trail magic in them. There were Cliff Bars, Kit Kats, hard candy, chips, and chocolate milk. We thanked them and sat in front of the coffee shop to eat the goodies. We were too full for lunch at Bojangles, as we had intended, so we settled into cushy chairs in the coffee shop where we charged up, used wifi, and enjoyed their beverages.
Thunderstorms were expected at 16:00, so we decided not to hike to the park and fire station in Troutville as we’d planned. We loaded up and headed to the HoJo’s instead. We sat outside and waited for a solo hiker, knowing one would come along. We saw Momo, but his room was full.
I met Johnny Utah who had just checked in, and he said that he’d split his room. Tandem gave him a coupon for $10 off the room, so we paid him $20 for half of the room. We settled in the room and pulled together our laundry between showers. While wandering around looking for shampoo and change for laundry, I met Scout, who was staying with Arrie. He suggested that we get together for beer and dinner, so I suggested Three Li’l Pigs BBQ at 18:00. We started spreading the word, and I posted it to the 2014 Thru Hikers Uncensored Facebook page.
Tandem and I went to Bojangles at 16:30 and enjoyed chicken and biscuits. After that, we went over to the restaurant and met the other hikers on the patio. There were seven there, including Simple and Hot Sauce. Ms. Janet was also there, and we all said our hellos. We had barbecue, wings, and beer and played Pass the Pigs.
After dinner, we all went to Kroger for last minute stuff. I got ice cream. We returned to the room and relaxed, watching TV and packing. It never did rain.
After a good night’s sleep at the HoJo’s and a mediocre continental breakfast, we hung around the hotel room for a couple of hours watching TV and packing. We got on the trail nearby at 10:30. The trail was not too up and down this morning. We traversed farmlands and stiles and even passed cows close up!
We hiked with Bear Bag for a while and passed a few hikers. Bear Bag owns a camping gear company at www.bearbaggear.com. We arrived at the Fullhardt shelter where several hikers were eating and talking. We hiked on solo and saw a Black Racer snake. Tandem was doing a new method of not carrying more than a liter of water but picking it up more often, which put me out in front of her often.
We climbed for most if the early afternoon. We met Simple, Hot Sauce, and another hiker at Blackhorse Gap, which was also the first view of the Blue Ridge Parkway! They were going to the Bobblets Gap shelter like us but were hanging out for the sun to go down.
We stopped for dinner at a Parkway overlook with a picnic table. We cooked and ate while sightseers stopped and took pictures of the view. A couple of hikers passed us, like Johnny Utah. We dumped out trash then hiked the last 2.6 miles to the shelter, past sunset views, arriving at 20:00.
There were not many tent sites at the shelter due to the slope, but the water source was close and great. I was lucky to find a flat spot beside the shelter for my tent. There were six in the shelter and five who left later due to the lack of space. We had dinner and crashed by 21:30, having done 18.5 miles today.
We hiked 27.2 miles today!