Bare Trees and Bear Sighting

Day 117

It was another cold night.  This time we opted to stay in the shelter to save time on packing up.  Today would be an unusual town experience for us.  Normally we Nero into town, hiking less than 10 miles, or more recently less than 2 miles.  This strategy provides amble time to complete town chores and then time to relax.  Today we would be hiking 19.5 miles with the plan to get to town before 4PM.  The alarm went off at 5:30AM.  Instead of immediately getting out of our bags, we heated up water for coffee to be enjoyed in comfort.

It was tough but we dragged ourselves out of our bags, changed and packed up. Thankfully we had the shelter to ourselves and could keep our headlamps on. We started hiking a little before 7AM under headlamp over the frosty ground.  We appreciated that our biggest climb of the day was immediate.  Over the next 2.5 miles we could ascend 1400 feet.  This would get out blood pumping and keep our extremities warm.

Once on the ridgeline, our day would mellow out.  At this elevation the trees are much more bare again reminding us more of November.  This lack of tree cover does provide a benefit and Eric slighted our second bear less than hundred feet in front of us.  We enjoyed watching it trot across the trail and then scamper into the woods.  This was a much better sighting than than the fuzzy black butt we saw way back in Massachusetts.

We pushed through the day breaking very briefly at some viewpoints. Luckily the day warmed up with blue skies and the wind completely died down. We were on a mission to get in to town so we snapped a couple pictures of the picturesque farmland below and pushed on.

We arrived in Pearisburg earlier than expected (3PM) and excited to relax at the hostel. We were also able to get a ride into town by a hostel employee much quicker than expected.

Once at Angels Rest Hiker Haven, we hit another mail snafu.  Eric’s package didn’t arrive as planned.  With his freshly buzzed head, he had ordered a warmer hat and somehow this hat ended up in Hawaii.  After contacting the vendor, Eric was able to cancel the order and get a refund but now he’ll have to pick up another hat when we reach our next gear store.

Luckily, the hostel is not far from a grocery store so we immediately dropped our bags in the bunk room and trekked over. We picked up lunch, dinner and a large resupply for the next week. We returned to Angels Rest and sat on one of the picnic benches to enjoy the sun and our snacks. We were also visited by some furry four legged friends looking for a treat.

A couple hours later we took excellent hot showers and used the communal kitchen to heat up dinner. We talked a little with some of the other guests. We can see how this hostel can be very busy when the northbound hikers come through, they have had over 60 at one time in the past. With large open spaces and easy access to the grocery store and other fast food options, this hostel is an easy place to fall into a vortex. Many hikers likely take unplanned zeros here and have to drag themselves back to the trail. We will have to stay focused in order to avoid falling into the vortex.

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