I was woken during the night by something stomping around in the leaves outside my tent. It was a nice evening, so I left my rain fly off and was able to see the forest above me through the mesh. I grabbed my light and shined it in the direction of the sounds fully expecting to see my first bear. Thankfully it was just a deer grazing about 2 feet from my tent. He stomped around for the next few hours clearly unscathed by hikers or a sudden burst of light.
I still don’t feel 100 percent, so I plan to wait out my group instead of hiking out. I said goodbye (more see ya later) to Minnesota and 19 and lugged my now incredibly heavy bag back into the woods. I sat down on a bridge around 10:30 a.m. and caught up my journaling/blogging. I met a few hikers and handed out the food Rocket Man had left me. Snicker Bear and Jackrabbit came off the mountain around 2:30 p.m., so I walked back into town with them.
Snicker Bear’s house (in neighboring Roanoke) is our destination, so she began frantically calling friends to get a ride to her place. We waited at Bojangles and ate. Around 4 they came with a car, and we piled in. Unfortunately, we didn’t all fit, so two trips were necessary. The split allowed us to shower a little faster and get a load of laundry going.
When everyone was clean enough for a night on the town, we headed out. First, we went to Big Licks Brewery where Snicker Bear used to work. It was a really cool spot with mostly outdoor seating on a giant patio of concrete pads and gravel. They have about 40 tables and umbrellas setup as well as a beanbag area. The taco place across the street delivers over here, so we ordered more food with our drinks. Breweries here close around 11, so we walked further downtown to a pizza place called Benny Marconi’s. The slices at this place are massive–over a foot long. Two plates are necessary to keep it off the table. We all enjoyed a slice; Sherlock (below) maybe most of all.
Snicker Bear sings with a band in the area, and they were performing down the street. We headed there to listen to her sing but were all too tired to get to their set and ended up walking home around midnight to end the day.
Our second day in Roanoke was spent mostly laying around. Snicker Bear and Sherlock brought back biscuits for breakfast. Our group split up to go into town to resupply. Snicker Bear, Sherlock, Redcoat, and I walked downtown to Jack Brown’s, a burger place reminiscent of JL Beers back home. The fries aren’t nearly as good, but they have deep fried Oreos to supplement! Following lunch, we went to the outfitter to get a few things for the others. We met the other group after and got the car from them.
We decided to take our friends from across the pond to get an American style milkshake before going to Aldi’s for their resupply. After we stopped at Kroger to get a few ingredients for supper, we headed home. The majority of our night was spent hanging around and watching TV. We did a few episodes of Westworld and some stand up comedians.
I admit our 0 days are not generally that exciting, but it is nice to be a couch potato every once in a while. I would have much preferred to be hiking, but my group has a tendency to indulge in town time. It’s a good balance for me I think, as I’d probably burn myself out if I didn’t have them to keep me here. Tomorrow we hike out but have a shorter day planned with all our extra food weight.
My group packed up slowly today in their post-party state. We did manage to get a picture of the group prior to leaving! Here we are so you have a chance to see everyone.
We ended up leaving Roanoke around 10 a.m. and headed back to Daleville to eat at Cracker Barrel. We realized the mistake a little too late, as it was Mother’s Day, and it was packed. An hour later we finally were seated, and I must say it was worth the wait. So many plates of food had to be brought out to our table that our waitress had to call in four other staff to help carry it out.
After finishing breakfast we had a mile walk down the interstate back to the trail where we hopped off a few days ago. We have a goal of Wilson Creek Shelter, about 10 miles up the trail. The rest of the group seemed to be stalling waiting around the picnic tables in an effort to digest further. I set off immediately and unfortunately wouldn’t see anyone from the group again.
I hiked slowly due to the heat and heavy humidity that seemed to be stuck over the area. The trail wasn’t a difficult hike and only had a few minor climbs. Rhododendrons are blooming in full force now, and the trail smells wonderful.
I hit the shelter around 5 and noticed I have strayed from my normal bubble of hikers. I recognized a few faces, but many are new after taking so much time off. I’ve been moving slowly the last week or so with some tendinitis creeping into both my right achilles and my left shin. The achilles issue generally stretches itself out after a bit, but I can’t shake the shin cramping. I was hoping the days off would remedy the issue, but they seem to be coming back already.
Today I hiked 11.2 miles, now totaling 749.2/2199.7.
I took a quick shower this morning and sadly had to change out of my loaner town clothes. I grabbed all my food and headed to the trailer to prepare my food bag for the trek ahead. It was still early enough for me to be able to spread it out on the kitchen table without getting in the way. Five days of food takes up the entire thing, and it saddens me, and my back, to be carrying so much again.
The profile in the AWOL guide seemed much more daunting than it turned out to be climbing it. I know my trail legs are getting pretty solid, but it’s crazy to think 1,500′ climbs no longer slow my pace, make me sweat, or quicken my breath. Virginia is where the trail starts to hit a lot more privately owned land, and we crossed a few of those portions this morning.
I grabbed a hot morning shower in anticipation of it being awhile before I got another. I split a bunch of bacon, eggs, and toast to make breakfast sandwiches with my group. As I was eating it, I realized I don’t even cook this nicely for breakfast when at home. After breakfast, we packed up and marched back through town towards the trail.
It dropped well below freezing overnight, and with our group split in two, neither Achilles nor I was quick to get ready. Despite the cold the morning, it was beautiful and sunny. The terrain has leveled a bit, and we made quick work of our morning walk. I stopped for a quick break on a bench to enjoy this view.
Today we took an unplanned 0 due to the winter storm blowing through the area. My home area is getting slammed with 12-16 inches of snow, so I’m thankful we are only getting about one. Chili Dog’s friend met us for lunch and drove us to a local Mexican restaurant and Walmart. Erwin is not laid out to accommodate someone without a vehicle, so the ride was necessary. A few of us rode in the back of the truck bed in true Tennessee fashion despite the heavy rain/sleet/snow mix falling on the interstate. Other drivers were definitely surprised to see us in the back as we passed.