I slept in today due to having done such a long day yesterday – our first time over 25 miles! We woke, packed by 8:00, and headed out the two miles up the creek and then straight up to US 60. I fell behind Tandem a bit, and when I arrived there was a shuttle from the Blue Dog Art Cafe waiting. Tandem had her pack in the back of the truck, so I loaded mine and we got in the bed with the five packs. Three hikers were already sitting in the cab. We passed under the Blue Ridge Parkway on our way to Buena Vista, VA.
We arrived at the Blue Dog at 9:30, and the other hikers checked into the hostel. The cafe is closed today for Memorial Day to everyone but hikers. The owner even graciously agreed to take us on a food restock run to Food Lion. We shopped, and I was done quickly, causing Tandem to feel rushed.
We got a ride back to the café where Tandem had coffee and I had a raspberry smoothie made by his wife, who manages the cafe and hostel. We charged our devices while talking to the owner about hunting and his experiences in the military while stationed in Maine.
When we asked where the laundromat was, he volunteered to drive us the four blocks there, too! He was leaving town for business, so that was the last lift for the day. We spent an hour doing laundry, eating, and charging. We “hiked” back to the cafe and passed a small garden statue display that Tandem thought her grandmother would appreciate seeing.
We paid for showers at the hostel, which were refreshing. Tandem had to run to Family Dollar for backs for her earrings, so I walked around town finding a couple of Geocaches. I found one in a park, and a family there was very interested in what I was doing. They helped search, and I think they are new Geocachers!
The next Blue Dog shuttle run was at 15:30, so we settled in the cafe charging and using the cell signal. At 14:30, the owner’s wife asked if we wanted to go back to the trail early. We agreed and packed up quickly. We were back to the trail by 15:00 where Johnny Utah waiting for the Blue Dog Cafe shuttle. We talked for a bit before hitting the trail for a hike straight up from the road for about 2000 feet. We topped Cold Mountain and found signal again to send our updates, enjoy the view, and rest.
I found the Cold Mountain cache and traded travel bugs. I then hiked the 1.4 miles down to the Hog Camp Gap camping area ahead of Tandem. This campsite was a beautiful grassy field with trees in small pockets where little camping spots were located. There was only one other hiker there, so I grabbed a spot away from him with good trees for Tandem’s hammock.
The water was .3 miles down the grassy hillside. It was peaceful, and the water was flowing well, so I grabbed three liters and cooled my feet. When I returned, Tandem had her hammock hung and also wanted to visit the spring. While she was gone I boiled water for our Rice Side and we ate into the darkness.
We cleaned up, hung bear bags, and went to bed. It had been a good day of 12 miles hiked and a five hour visit in Buena Vista.
I woke at 5:30 and wrote yesterday’s blog entry. The sun was rising when we got up at 6:45. We packed, ate, and I hit the trail by 7:30.
I hiked on ahead and Tandem caught me after a few miles. We hiked up and down on easy terrain making miles until we reached the Seeley Woodworth shelter where we got water and snacked. When we left, I let Tandem take the lead, and we met up again at Spy Rock. That is a big rock scramble to get on top. I found a Geocache there, and we met a family of short section hikers. We left and hiked the easy rolling hilltops until we had to climb up to The Priest. On the way up, I encountered a large, four-foot long Rattlesnake in the middle if the trail. It put up a fight and wouldn’t allow me to pass.
I had to fight back, so I started throwing sticks and rocks to make him move. He wouldn’t. Then I hit the mark with a rock and killed it. I felt bad, but I was tired and frazzled.
I arrived at The Priest shelter well behind Tandem at 15:00. We agreed that with the snake experience, impending severe thunderstorms, and having already done 14.3 miles, we should hang out at this shelter and tackle the Three Ridges Mountain 3000 foot climb in the morning. It did thunderstorm but cleared up by 17:00.
Everton and Bear Bag showed up in the rain, and Everton set up his bedding in the shelter.
Once the rain stopped, Bear Bag convinced Everton to pack back up and go to the next shelter, 7.6 miles away. Other hikers showed up by 18:00 and set up tents. Tandem had her hammock set up in one end of the shelter.
Tomorrow we plan to do 22.3 miles, down 3000 feet to the Tye River, then up 3000 feet and over Three Ridges Mountain, finishing with a climb up Humpback Mountain to camp on top. It may be raining. On Thursday, we will push 12.5 miles in the morning to US 250 to hitch into Waynesboro for the hiker meal cooked by the Lutheran church and hostel.