5/15 Zero in Charlottesville
Today was a pretty great zero day. We woke up and Bevo’s friend was preparing a breakfast for us. It was delicious. Later on, their daughter, who was Bevo’s prom date, came by and they reminisced on their childhood. It was fun to hear a different part of Bevo’s life.
After lunch we got a tour of Charlottesville, and it was cool to see different parts of the city. We stopped by the outfitter so Stitch could get a new water bladder and Garfield and Bevo could get new underwear. I thought about getting a new valve for my water bladder, but decided not to. We then went to the grocery store to resupply. I am very happy that I haven’t gotten tired of the same basic meals that I eat. The selection at Kroger makes it the best resupply place we have had yet (although the 8675309 trick doesn’t work). I went a little crazy on this resupply and got some goodies to give my trail family on Tuesday when it is supposed to rain all day.
We then had delicious steaks for dinner that Bevo grilled for us. During dinner Garfield’s punning had rubbed off on all of us. We were all making them and cracking up about them.
It has been a great day and a half here. I really appreciate the generosity Bevo’s friends showed to three hungry, smelly hikers whom they had never met. It was a pleasure getting to know them and I thoroughly enjoyed my stay and their beautiful home.
5/16 Rockfish Gap to Blackrock Hut (20.7 miles)
Today was the first day of great weather that we have had in awhile. The morning started off a little cold, but it was much better than the mugginess that we had the last 10 days or so.
The day had a lot of rolling hills/ mountains, but the climbs were relatively easy and gradual. This section of trail has been very well maintained. I suspect it’s because the trail crosses a road about every 3 miles making it easily accessible to day hikers and trail maintainers.
We got in to the shelter at around 5. Bevo made dinner and he decided to go back out on the trail by himself so he can avoid some of the rain tomorrow. We are planning on meeting up with him again tomorrow, but the three of us might decide to add in an extra day if tomorrow ends up wearing us out too much.
We ran into another bubble tonight at the shelter. We haven’t seen about half the people here which is unusual, but I guess it means we are catching up to more people who started before us.
5/17 Blackrock Hut to Hightop Hut (21.4 miles)
The good weather only lasted 1 day. We woke up this morning to the sound of rain on the roof. We set off at our normal time, to a cold rain. Thankfully it wasn’t windy ,like it was on our worst day when we went over Dragonstooth, so none of us lost feeling in our hands for too long.
We reached a store at around 10 and stayed there warming up for awhile. When we were ready to leave we went out to put on our wet raincoats, but they were so cold that they we went back inside with them on to warm them up a bit.
It was really disappointing that we missed several of the views that are supposed to be beautiful because they were all clouded/fogged in.
We hit our low point at lunch. Stitch was talking about stopping at that shelter for the day. It seemed like a perfect time to bring out the “luxury food” I carried in for each member of my trail family. Stitch got starbursts and chocolate covered almonds and Garfield got dried mangos (Bevo got his swedish fish when we caught up to him at dinner). It was just the pick me up we needed and took at least 2 pounds off my pack.
In the afternoon we passed through the area of the AT that was closed to fire. Most of it looked like controlled burn (both sides of the trail were burned, but not the 2 inches on either side). It was very cool, but looked eerie with all the fog.
We reached the shelter around 5. We made great time (9.5 hours) considering that we took nearly two hours of breaks.
5/18 Blackrock Shelter to Rock Spring Hut (23.9 miles)
Today was another cold dreary day with most of the views clouded in. I have sort pretty much “embraced the suck” and really don’t mind these days anymore. It can be tough sometimes, but this is part of what I signed up for.
Today was pretty uneventful other than stopping by a diner .4 miles off the trail that had some delicious blackberry milkshakes. We are going to combine our two short days on Friday to avoid the all day rain on Saturday. It will be one of my longer days (26.4 miles), but nothing too terrible.
Today was a short day, but I got really tired towards the end. We started late today (after 8) because it was raining, we didn’t get into camp until late yesterday, and we had a short day.
The morning was the typical fogged in day I have come to expect in Virginia. My beard had water droplets on it due to the thick fog. We missed out on what I assume were some pretty great views.
The sun started to peek out in the afternoon. Bevo and Stitch left us to aquablaze (canoe part of the trail) shortly after lunch. We will be meeting up with them tomorrow night. The day finally started clearing up around 3 pm and by the time we were making dinner there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. I am really hoping that it stays like this for our long hike tomorrow.
We made a Stitch dinner tonight and it was without a doubt the messiest meal I have eaten on the trail. Parmesan does not dehydrate well so I spent quite a lot of time cleaning up. However Garfield and I were having a great time and laughing the whole time.
Garfield has finally embraced his name and is introducing himself as Garfield to new people. I am pretty excited about that.
5/20 Pass Mountain Hut to US 522 (26.4 miles)
Garfield and I got off to an early start this morning and made great time. We did the 26.4 miles in a little over 10 hours.
It was the first day in a long time that we woke up to a blue sky and sunshine. The weather stayed like that all day which was great. We got some pretty good views today, particularly when compared to the fog we had seen before. It was pretty amazing how much the haze from pollution reduced some of the views.
The rest of the day was pretty uneventful until one of Bevo’s coworkers picked us up and took us to his house and treated us to a wonderful meal. I still have not gotten used to the generosity of the people around the trail.