The hikers in the shelter woke early, around 6:45, making noise and talking loudly, so most everyone else woke up then, too.
We left in two separate pairs, with Tandem and Mio, who are faster, leading the way into the dreaded Roller Coaster. Johnny Utah and I left together 15 minutes later. This 13.5 miles of the AT has 10 sharp inclines and descents, renowned for causing knee problems and sore feet as it is also very rocky.
Two-thirds of the way through the Roller Coaster is Route 7 and a pub/restaurant called the Horseshoe Curve. Mio and Tandem stopped there for sodas, and Johnny Utah and I came in about 20 minutes later for Cokes. I spotted some steel mind puzzles hanging on the wall and found that two were the same as those that we have at home. I quickly removed the loose pieces under the table to show that it could be done. The others tried for a long time, and some of them did solve them. It killed more than 30 minutes.
We knew that we would be crossing the 1000 mile mark in less than one mile after we got back on the trail, so we all bought cold tall cans of beer for the celebration. We tore ourselves away from the great restaurant and headed back up to the AT.
We crossed the creek about two thirds of a mile later and arrived at the 1000 mile marker. We opened our shaken beers and toasted the achievement! We posed for pictures, which Tandem quickly posted to Facebook.
We hiked up the next mountain on the Roller Coaster and passed over into West Virginia! Finally out of the 500+ miles of Virginia! We hiked on, finishing the Roller Coaster after a couple of more mountains. Then the trail leveled off, and we hiked on to the Blackburn ATC hostel, a free hostel a third of a mile down a big drop from the trail.
Hikers are given a free off brand soda and can tent or hammock on the property. There is a solar heated shower, which was cold by the time I took a shower. We had dinner around large picnic tables with other hikers. Bear Bag had a bottle of red wine from a winery he’d visited that afternoon that he shared with everyone along with fresh cheddar cheese. We found out later that our trash was not allowed to be left there, which disappointed Bear Bag with his heavy wine bottle.
After dinner, I set up my tent in a flat spot in the woods way beyond the others. Tandem set up her hammock nearby, and Mio was nearby on the hill. We found out the next day from Bear Bag that a bear had been within five feet of Mio’s hammock, but he didn’t want to wake him.
We spent an hour on the porch of the house taking about Just Black’s loss of His Crocs and clothes bag. He was going to need to get new black clothes in Harpers Ferry. We also watched Bear Bag struggle and fail to hang his hammock on the porch. Other hikers read books and used the large telescope on the lawn to view the moon. We all turned in by 22:00. Today had been an 18 mile day, but included the Roller Coaster.