Smokin’ Hot Days!

Posted from the Budget Inn, Buena Vista, VA

Daleville to Glasgow: 56.8 miles

July 13-18

The overriding feature of this section of the trail has been the heat, humidity and hills –without the benefit of breathtaking scenic overlooks! So, I was left to take pictures of large, ugly bugs on gas station walls and of Mel standing in a privy. Here’s a summary of the last six days…

Monday July 13

Daleville to Wilson Creek Shelter 11.2 miles


It’s always hard for me to leave a town and get back on the trail; to leave a comfortable bed, a working toilet and running water to face the vagaries of the weather, the aching feet and the myriad of nasty bugs. It’s an additional challenge because the trail out of a town is almost always uphill, and we always have our heaviest supply of food to carry up that hill.


Big scary Dobson flies all over the gas station walls!

Just after taking a break at Fullhardt Knob Shelter, we ran into ‘Just Steve’ whom we hadn’t seen since Damascus when he was hiking with Inky. He had just dropped her at the airport in Roanoke because she was done hiking and was on her way home. We were so surprised to run into ‘Just Steve’ because we thought he was way ahead of us! A nice surprise!

Backfire with a butterfly friend

We arrived at our destination shelter, Wilson Creek, with plenty of time to get our mats inflated, get our things set up inside the shelter and to eat our new experimental meal of pita bread, tuna fish and mayo. As trail meals go, it was too messy and not very tasty for all of the bother–but we are pretty darn sick of pasta meals!


A lovely luna moth!

When it looked like rain was about to commence, we cleaned all of our food things off the picnic table, quickly hung our bear bag and hopped into the shelter. Just before the clouds burst open, a lone hiker came hustling up the trail to the shelter trying to beat the rain. He made it with 30 seconds to spare!
After a minute or two of friendly chatter, he said, “You guys are Spider and Backfire, aren’t you?”
We were surprised by his question and asked, “How on earth do you know who we are?”

“I’ve been following your blog on Appalachian Trials. I feel like I’m meeting celebrities!”
Turns out that he is a blogger with Appalachian Trials as well–trail name, Grey Wolf, real name, Kyle Settlemyre. How cool! He’s the fourth Trials blogger we’ve met after Pony, Noodle and Clever Girl. What are the chances?
There were more surprises to come! A little later, Grey Wolf’s friend, Greg/No Future also appeared out of the dark, but soaking wet. As we talked with him, he reminded us that we had first met him back at Wolf Pen Gap hostel in Suches, GA, –only a few days into our hike! He had been sick at the time so we hadn’t seen much of him, but Backfire had actually talked with him for awhile before we left. We were amazed to run into him again after so much time. You never know when you’re going to reconnect with old hiking buddies!


Daisies to brighten our day!

Tuesday July 14

Wilson Creek Shelter to Cove Mountain Shelter. 13.8 miles

Cheese Season?

We ran into Grey Wolf and No Future several times today and enjoyed their company. As we were taking a lunch break at Bobblets Gap Shelter, No Future made the comment that “Cheese season was over.”

Huh? I thought. Cheese season is over? Is that anything like hunting season or fishing season? “No”, he said, it meant that it was now too hot for hikers to carry cheese! At this time of year, cheese in your backpack gets soft, gooey and greasy! Hence, Cheese Season is over! Good to know.

Today was definitely beyond Cheese Season! It was so hot and so humid that we felt as gooey and greasy as a hunk of cheese!

Wednesday July 15

Cove Mountain Shelter to Jennings Creek 3.2 miles

Unexpected Detours

We only hiked 3.2 miles to Jennings Creek today and made a sudden and unexpected decision to get off the trail for the night–either to a nearby campground with cabins or the Wattstull Inn more than 5 miles away. I thought Backfire was kidding when he suggested this possibility because it wasn’t even remotely in our game plan for the day. Even though we had just left Daleville two days before, we were both hot and sticky and running out of steam in the stifling heat–so we had no intention of walking to either the cabins or the inn, but there was almost no traffic on this remote road for good hitchhiking prospects, so we tried calling for a shuttle. The Wattstull Inn didn’t usually do shuttles, but within 20 minutes, they sent someone to get us in a small red pick up truck. We didn’t think it was our ride, because the truck bed was packed full of junk and the driver looked like a twelve year old boy! Where would we sit? Where could we put our packs? How old was this kid anyway? (17 as it turns out).

The truck bed Backfire rode in

I squeezed myself into the front seat amongst the junk and clutter, and Backfire threw himself and the packs onto the junk in the back and hung on for dear life as we road up the mountain.

The Inn and the nearby restaurant provided us with the cool, refreshing break that we needed!


the salad I had on our refreshing break! Yum!


Thursday July 16

Jennings Creek to Cornelius Creek Shelter  8.7 miles

Hot and Cold

We woke up in the motel at dawn, just like we do on the trail and got packed up to go. First we had to head down the hill to a gas station to buy something to eat for breakfast–like microwavable sandwiches and orange juice. When I went outside to eat my sandwich, a man came up to ask about our hike. After a few minutes he asked, “Do you need anything?” I started to say “No” but then I remembered that we needed a ride back to the trail! He was headed that way and said he’d be happy to drop us off! I grabbed Mel from the gas station and off we went with burning hot sandwiches in our hands. Getting this unsolicited ride was a whole lot better than trying to hitchhike!

Luxurious Bryant Ridge Shelter

After about four miles, we came to the Bryant Ridge Shelter, which is one of the nicest shelters I’ve seen on the trail so far. Partnership Shelter, near Marion VA was nice too, but we ran by it so fast trying to catch the shuttle into town, that I didn’t really see it! Bryant Ridge has three levels for sleeping and a picnic table that was inside—protected from the elements.


A pew! with a view!

Bryant Ridge was not our destination shelter, so after a short break, we kept moving until we got to Cornelius Creek Shelter. We got in really early but decided to stay put because there were bear warnings posted for the next shelter!

It was mostly an uphill day with lots of humidity, but when we stopped at Cornelius, I got chilled quickly and had to put on dry clothes! Tonight, the air feels surprisingly cool– what a delightful respite from the heat!


Early morning fog

With our unexpected stop at the Wattstull Inn, we are now behind Grey Wolf and No Future and will miss having their company in the coming days.

Friday July 17

Cornelius Creek Shelter to Matt’s Creek Shelter   17.7 miles!!

The Walking Dead!

OMG! We just walked almost 18 miles today and were on our feet for close to 12 hours! I was so tired and my feet and legs hurt so much, I was quite close to tears. We walked this long mileage today so that we would only have two miles to hike to the road tomorrow where we could hitch a ride into Glasgow for a shower, a resupply and a meal or two at a restaurant. I always like seeing what I’m capable of, and today really tested my limits. I have hiked longer miles before but mileage is only part of the challenge–the difficulty of the terrain and the weather make a huge difference. The heat, in particular, is a real energy drain for me.


The Guillotine!


Backfire saves the day!

The hardest part of the day was the hike up to Highcock Knob (Yes, Highcock! Who comes up with these names?) It was all that its name implies–long, hot and hard! AND there were no rewarding views once we got to the top! Bummer! The climb down wasn’t any better for my knees or my feet. I was really, really happy when Matt’s Creek shelter ‘suddenly’ appeared in the woods!


Highcock Knob


One of the few overlooks on this section


About 5 miles into our day, we came to Thunder Hill Shelter to take a break. There was a young man sitting at the table with the trail name of Seabiscuit. He had only started his thru hike on June 15 and he was already ahead of us!! (We started on April 17th) He’s doing big, big miles and I think he has set an impossible goal for himself to finish by September!


Our first sighting of a Turk’s Cap Lily

The most interesting thing about Seabiscuit was his regimented meal planning system. Before he left on his hike, he used a spreadsheet to calculate how many calories he would need each day and then proceeded to make meals for himself that would fulfill his calorie quotient! (We just buy stuff that we can stomach!) All of his meals and snacks were in ziplock bags and he could tell me how many calories were in each bag and how many bags he would have to eat each day!

The thing that perplexed us though, was that we expected him to pass us within an hour or so of our leaving the shelter, but we never saw him the rest of the day! We hope he is OK!

Saturday July 18

Matt’s Creek Shelter to Buena Vista (via Glasgow)  2 miles!

From The Frying Pan to the Fire!

It was a dreadfully hot night last night in the tent. It’s much hotter in the tent than in a shelter because we don’t get as much airflow, but the no-see-ums were so bad last night that we opted for the tent rather than the shelter. The air was so humid and still that even our clothes didn’t dry out on the line overnight.

Spiders in the privy! Yikes!

Since we had hiked such a long day yesterday, we only had two miles down to the road to catch a ride into Glasgow this morning where we could do laundry, take a shower (at a city owned pavilion) and eat in a restaurant. Unfortunately, there were no motels or hostels in Glasgow, only camping, so at the end of the day, we would have to hitch a ride back out of town and head up to the next shelter–unless we could get a ride to Buena Vista which was another 10 miles away!

Twenty minutes into our hitchhiking venture, a young man in his thirties with a small child in the back seat, picked us up! Long story short, he took us all the way to Buena Vista where we are comfortably situated in air conditioning while the weather outside is broiling people alive!!
Tomorrow we head back out of the frying pan and into the fire once more! I’m hoping for cooler days ahead!


The James River Foot Bridge near Glasgow


The Spider Diaries


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