Surprise Heat Wave
We started the morning with a little fire to use up the wood we had gathered. The day was promising to be warm and sunny. After our coffee, we packed up and headed south.
We enjoyed the rolling hills and scenic farmland of South Western Virginia. By mid-day we were very warm, it felt like September again. We were happy the cold winds and temps of the past week were gone, at least for a little while. We didn’t see too many people on the trail and we put our heads down and just cruised.
We made it to our camp site in good time. We had another fire that night and enjoyed the sunset through the trees.
We woke up early hoping to make our way down the mountain to the road where there is a small outpost that is said to make great sandwiches. We set out and arrived within the next hour only to find a hand written note on the door saying they will be open at 10am (an hour and a half wait). What rotten luck…well at least there is a picnic table next to it where we can make breakfast from our food bags.
As we approached we saw someone had left some trail magic! A cooler full of water bottles and a couple granola bars. Our luck has changed! We haven’t seen trail magic in many weeks. We sat down and ended up waiting until the outpost opened to get our sandwich and charge our phones a bit.
Once that was done we set off to finally start hiking. The terrain was more rolling hills so we made up for lost time and moved quickly. The weather was beautiful again today and we are back to hiking in shorts and t-shirts. We are loving this heat wave.
We made it to camp and had yet another fire. One of the positives to not pushing big 20+ mile days is you have more time to relax and enjoy the journey. We started slow in Maine and spent time enjoying nature, we started to speed up through VT and then we really kicked it into high gear when we hit PA. Now that we are on the back half of the journey we’ve started to slow down a bit. We want to enjoy VA and the rest of the south. When we check the log books we are a little sad to see all our trail friends get farther and farther away as they increase their pace to finish but we have to hike our own hike and we will get to Springer when it’s right for us.
We started our day with another morning fire and we had visitor! A SOBO named Root was hiking by and stopped to chat. He told us who he had been around recently and not too many of the names were familiar, we are starting to backslide into a new bubble. Although it’s a true SOBO bubble, just a handful of people. Root only has a certain number of days left on his leave from work and is hustling to finish, he was a bit sad to say it’s unlikely he will make it to Springer in time and will have to finish next year, turning his thru-hike into a LASH. It was nice to meet a new person and we are sure it will continue over the next few weeks.
We packed up and headed out over more rolling hills and farmland. We have had some truly excellent views. Virginia, especially southwest Virginia is definitely in our top favorite places to hike. These grassy ridgelines are just so beautiful and we are so grateful for the amazing weather. When Eric came through this stretch in 2011 he was in the middle of his 9 days of rain stretch and felt truly miserable. He is happy to have a redemption hike through these miles.
We cruised through the miles easily until we hit a river ford…a small foot bridge had been destroyed so the only way across was through it. We haven’t had to take our shoes off to ford since New England. Again we were thankful for this heat wave as the ford would have been miserable in vold weather. We plunged into the shin deep chilly river, the cold was shocking and yet refreshing on our sore feet. Within minutes we were across and putting our shoes back on.
A few miles later we made our way to the shelter for the night. There is some overnight rain in the forecast and we would rather not deal with a wet tent if possible. At the shelter Eric set to making…you guessed it…another fire. We had another nice night and were very glad to have the shelter all to ourselves for the night.
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