We knew waking up that this would be an easy day of only 13.5 miles, with a hitched stop in Buchanan, VA. We packed up and had a good breakfast, with Tandem heating up a new grain-based oatmeal that she made too much of. We cleaned up and left the shelter by 8:30.
Most had left the shelter earlier, so we passed a few of the slower hikers later in the morning. After intersecting the Blue Ridge Parkway a few times again, we dropped and took a snack break at the Cove Mountain shelter. Free Man was there, as well as a couple with a very well trained dog. They talked about how the dog always picked up ticks and had to be checked daily.
After leaving the shelter, we descended a lot to under 1000 feet at Jennings Creek and VA 614. There is a swimming hole there, so several of us went swimming or wading. It was refreshing and a great break! A utility truck stopped and the driver brought us an Igloo cooler full of iced-down water and diet soda bottles. It was great timing. After drying off, six of us tried hitching from the bridge into Buchanan for a movie and Burger King.
We waited for 30 minutes for someone to stop. Four motorcycles did stop, but the space was obviously limited. Hot Sauce had left to walk in and hitch solo. The five of us who remained were finally picked up at 14:20 by a women taking her sick cat to an emergency vet. Tandem sat in the front seat with the cat in a box in her lap while the four guys crammed in the back seat.
We discovered that the movie theater has only one show per day at 19:30, which would not work out for us. We watched the road for Hot Sauce and passed him by due to a lack of space. Simple did heckle him, though. We were dropped off at Burger King and noticed a barbecue place around the corner near the James River. We were the only customers. We ordered burgers and barbecue and had milkshakes or ice cream. The burgers were cooked fresh with all the fixings and sides. The owner opened the store a year ago and was trying to grow it. The owner’s wife had decorated the walls with excellent artwork characters from SpongeBob SquarePants.
We had texted Hot Sauce, but he hadn’t replied, so when we finished we went to the main intersection to hitch a ride back to the AT. A very kind 32-year veteran offer to take us back in his pickup truck. I rode in the cab giving directions while the other four rode with the packs in the truck bed. We talked about how he and others have dogs that they use to run after and tree bears. Most have an average of 15 dogs. We arrived, unloaded, gave our thanks, and sat down to talk with Bacon Dog and Happy. We were happy to see that Hot Sauce had also made it back safely.
Tandem and I left shortly after that for the Bryant Ridge shelter, four miles of 1000 foot up-and-down hiking. Bryant Ridge holds 20 hikers and has about four tent sites. I set up down the hill from the shelter near the AT and creek but didn’t put on the tent fly due to the warm weather.
We had pasta dinner and talked with other hikers until dark. Tomorrow we have a 3200 foot climb over nine miles and a mile drop to another hiker feed served between 14:00 and 19:00. I will enjoy this one more than the last one, two weeks ago when I was sick.
I woke up chilled at 6:30 due to being down near the creek and not having my tent fly on. I did enjoy the white noise of the cascading creek. I ate at my tent and was packed before Tandem got up. I left at 7:30 after telling her I’d meet her at the next shelter at the top of the big climb this morning.
I arrived there at 9:30 and Tandem arrived 10 minutes later. We snacked and signed the log book. I left early, but Tandem caught up on a distant climb. We passed a few points of interest at the top of a mountain, including an FAA tower. The other was a rock configuration called the Guillotine.
We passed several thru hikers and others passed us as we all made our way toward the hiker feed at the Blue Ridge Parkway. Most of the first hikers arrived there at 12:30.
The special traveling marbles were handed out and Tandem got another one. I already have mine from Mothers’ Day, when I was ill.
These hiker feeds have been hosted for ten years by these woman. At each one, the main woman gives out cool mineral marbles. She used to give them to friends who travelled to leave all over the world (like in the Egyptian pyramid, all the continents, the deepest part of the ocean, etc), then she started giving them to hikers so they could remember that good things might be around the corner at any minute when they’re feeling down. She said we could leave them somewhere cool, keep them, or give them to someone who’s struggling.
After Tandem and I had cobbler, we left for the trail behind several other hikers.
We hiked seven miles to a campsite where many of the hiker feed hikers came to. I found a flat spot for my tent early before other hikers came in and set up. We hung our food from Tandem’s hammock and settled into our sleeping quarters. I listened to music to block out the other conversations while I wrote this blog entry. We will get up early tomorrow to hitch in and out of Glasgow, VA.
[“La. La. La. La. La. La. La.” – Couch Control]