Oh Virginia, You Have Continued to Maze Me!

Week eight, day 50-57

Day 50 started with the promise of legendary comfort food at Homeplace. AYCE, a hiker acronym for all you can eat, helped eased the early day miles over hill and dale. We eagerly climbed what I called the dragons tail to get to his tooth! What an epic area. From there we eagerly tramped down to dinner and ate like we planned time with a couch and football game to ruminate and rub our bellies afterward—sorry, food coma! ( I’d be remiss to mention the food was outstanding!) Two hours after feasting we passed said food oasis from a ridge high above and powered through a late-day shower to lay up in a shelter we found in the dark with our headlights.

Fortunately we sheltered up with a single section hiker we meet the day before—farmer Lewis from Montana. He was gracious as we disrupted his slumber, apologetically we asked if he wanted to join us for a predawn sojourn to McAfee Knob mere hours away. Fortunately, because us four hikers were too tired and wet to set up tents in the dark!

I had wished he accepted as we meet up two days later and shared a zero in Roanoke- another great trail mate!

All of the miles and early wake up yielded some of the most amazing photos I’ve ever seen of a spectacular sunrise on McAfee Knob thanks to Lucky’s cousin Max Rooke who hiked four miles to met us at the predawn hour and display her talented photography skills!

Tinker Cliffs passage promised us a zero in Roanoke for much needed showers, laundry, resupply and soft beds for rest!! Especially appreciated after 16 trail days and 300  miles!!

Onward with fresh legs 25 miles north to Cove Mountain Shelter to catch up with our pal Frozen! Hitting the start of Skyline Drive brings me full circle to 45 years ago while camping here I saw my first hikers on the AT and was inspired enough to promise myself I would one day hike it!! Nothing like a full supply weighted pack ! It was a gorgeous day and a starry clear night. A short hike to Thunder Mountain (17 miles) lead us to the most amazing trail magic yet as Rick a local trail angel met us at the shelter with water, sodas, cookies, danish, muffins and fresh fruit! Thanks Rick – you’re awesome! Rick has been a die hard frozenadventures YouTube fan for five years and we had a blast sharing our trail stories!

Day 55, we hiked another 25.3 miles to Punch Bowl Shelter, another ambitious day with significant uphill climbs that wouldn’t have been complete without fog, winds, and a steady rain. Day 56, we eased up a bit into Buena Vista for a short (11.3 miles) resupply and another arduous pack up to some gentler grades that will hopefully increase our daily mileage output after an easy restful break! We also surpassed the 800-mile mark!

Day 57 is a wash, collectively our tramily decided to wait out a strong weather system that featured high winds, heavy rain, (2”) thunderstorms for a ten-hour period and a tornado warning for Lexington, VA. Rain no problem – we’ve seen more than our share but hiking an exposed ridgeline just doesn’t seem prudent or safe given all the weather warnings!

Tomorrow is another day and lord willing we’ll break at Priest Shelter to confess our trail sins and move onto to finish a 28-mile day! Stay tuned!!

Happy trails!


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Comments 6

  • Nikki : Apr 18th

    Great photos from McAfee’s! It seems that you are blazing along quite nicely through Virginia! Hoping that the weather starts to look a little nicer.

  • Jan : Apr 18th

    Was waitin fer this update – looks like you are on the edge of spring as you progress North. Great accomplishment, stay with it and say “HELLO” to your tramily!

  • Judy Moore : Apr 18th

    Awesome photos John!
    You can write a trail book!

  • Pam Richards : Apr 18th

    Thank you so very much for sharing your adventures! I am delighted that my son, Grady (aka: Lucky), found a trail mate to keep him company and encourage him on! Continue to enjoy all the adventures!

  • Beretta and Dave : Apr 18th

    Some great photos!
    Thanks for what you’re doing for Paws of War Florida!

  • Cincinnatus : Apr 22nd

    Thanks for the great photos and the updates.

    I plan to hike the AT in a couple years – being the same age as you I would love to hear some of the differences you see, physically, mentally, and emotionally compared to younger hikers out there.


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