Winter Appalachian Trail – Day 33 (18 miles)
As I was writing yesterday’s journal in my sleeping bag, the guy I was sharing the shelter started to snore. I struggle to sleep with it and after waiting a little while to see if he was going to stop i decided to drag my bivy out into the woods. I therefore lay there looking up at the stars as I waited for sleep to overcome me. I highly recommend giving this a go at least once as it is one of the greatest parts of backpacking (my preferred cowboy camping is in the desert). I ended up sleeping well and woke up to a sky with patchy clouds.I shoved my gear into my pack and started my only climb for the day. It was a little steep and still had ice covering the trail, but once I got to the top it became a nice, easy stroll along the ridgeline.
It also had some great lookouts down into the valley along the way! At the second of these rocky lookouts I heard voices. I was a bit excited. It had been well over 200 miles between seeing people and now that the weather has warmed up they are coming out to play.
I sat down with the people, having a snack as I enjoyed the view and talked with them. There was a collage couple just trying to get out for the weekend and another person who was hiking the AT this year in a very flip floppy style. He had work commitments for the next couple of months so planned to section hike a few days here and a week there until his calendar freed up. This was his first section and was keen to get into town.
I was also keen to get into town for a big meal as the cold snap caused me to eat more than the previous couple of legs. I said goodbye and goodluck the the thru hiker and took off again. By this stage I was 2 hours from town and I started to see a lot of hikers out for the day. I cannot believe how this can change so fast!
Even though I was rather hungry I took a side trip to Angels Rest lookout and found another couple out for the day from college. They were extremely nice and I ended up talking to them for a rather long time as I enjoyed a clementine that they so kindly offered to me.
They were interesting but my hunger eventually won out and I headed back to the trail to start my descent into Pearisburg. It was rather muddy now that the ground has started to defrost, and the people using the trail today have managed to tear up the trail a fair bit.
I ran into the flip flop hiker and stayed behind hm and heard more about his planned adventure. He was new to hiking and has been dreaming of hiking the AT for over 10 years. Now was his time and he was pretty determined to take it even with the work commitments.
As we descended to town he offered me a lift in as his car was waiting below. As we were driving into town he offered to shout me a meal. I was hungry, so was he and we eventually feasted on some decent Mexican. I was surprised how much I put away!
He then dropped me off at the hostel for the night. I needed to dry my sleeping bag out again and was also considering taking a zero day as it has been over 300 miles since i had a break. It was rather funny that all the people working at the Angel’s Rest hostel came out to meet me from every direction. I was the first northbound hiker of the season and they were a bit excited for this moment. They had a cake ready and dinner was not far behind.
I tried to decline the food but ended up eating it and was again surprised that I could fit another meal in only an hour later. I then sat down to a ‘quick’ Lord of the Rings movie and then headed off to bed.