Soaking Up the Detours
Day 68: 1,780 ft ascent, 11.4 miles
We left the Helvey’s Mill shelter knowing we had a long while to go without water. After reading comments in the Far Out app, we didn’t take time to explore some water sources that were only probable options along the way. We ended up going ten miles before we found a small groundwater-fed stream to fill up our water bottles.
Still exhausted from our big push to Bland, we decided to take time to cool our feet in the water and then find a campsite early that night. There were thunderstorms in the area and we like to avoid setting up and taking down camp in the rain when possible. It was a short, easier day that we needed.
Day 69: 1,930 ft ascent, 12.8 miles
As we started hiking in the morning, I remembered there was a grocery store coming up that we had decided to pass on for a resupply option not trusting they would have food we wanted. When I went back to look at it again, I saw it was half a mile from the trail and also sold hot fresh food. I told Erik about it, and next thing I knew I was eating a cheeseburger and tots in front of a random two-pump gas station called Trent’s Grocery. Unexpected greasy hot food might be the best tasting food out there.
After we left Trent’s Grocery, we came across a side trail to Dismal Falls. I wasn’t too excited to take the side trail, but Erik reminded me that’s why we were hiking. We dropped our packs and headed to the waterfall.
The waterfall was much more than I expected and very much worth the trip. We ended up going swimming! It felt great to cool off and wash off some sweat. Our detours for the day took us off track from how far we had wanted to hike, but both were well worth the delays.
Day 70: 3,260 ft ascent, 15.2 miles
We had a plan to hike until we got a few miles outside of Pearisburg so we could walk in and take a Nero (a day with near zero hiking). Our packs were light with little food, so Erik and I split up Jake’s pack so he could slackpack! Slackpacking is where you hike without your pack or without much weight so you can (hopefully) put in extra miles.
I wanted to give Jake a break since he had been pushing so hard with us. He was so excited bounding up and down the trail without his pack on. Seeing him extra happy that day was worth the little extra weight for us for the day.
Day 71: 110 ft ascent (2,210 ft descent), 3.4 miles
We took our time in the morning getting out of camp knowing we had a short day. We got to the road into Pearisburg and called the hostel we were staying at for a shuttle.
Angel’s Rest Hiker’s Haven turned into our best stay on the trail so far. We waited less than five minutes for a shuttle from the trail, and once we arrived at the hostel, we quickly saw it was extremely dog friendly! There were places to connect your dog leash all over the property.
We got settled in and I went off to the grocery store a short 0.2 mile walk away. As I started down the driveway, I was startled to see a bear!
I got food from the store and we made a feast in the kitchen! Steak, potatoes, broccoli, sweet potatoes, carrots, and root beer floats. We ended up making all of our meals this trip at the hostel. It was a nice change of pace from trail food and our normal Dominos in town.
Day 72: Zero
We spent a full day at Angel’s Rest. I sat in a hammock for a while, we made a few more meals in the kitchen, and we got all of our town chores taken care of. I was most excited to pick up my package from the post office: a new Enlightened Equipment quilt!
My 10° Enlightened Equipment quilt was one of my favorite pieces of gear, but with warmer nights I was waking up in a sweat way too often to keep using it. I took advantage of a rare 20% off sale and splurged on a 40° summer quilt. I was also excited to drop almost 11 ounces in weight with the new quilt as well. Anything I could do to get lighter would be worth it with all of the aches and pains I was dealing with daily!
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