Will Hike For Banana Pudding
Day 73: 2,670 ft ascent, 8.6 miles
After a nero and a zero, it was hard to leave and get back to the trail. Erik, Jake, and I had six days of food to get us 93 miles to Daleville. It was going to be a hard climb out of Pearisburg with our heavy packs.
We made ourselves bacon, eggs, and banana pancakes one more time before leaving. It was hard not to take advantage of the kitchen at Angel’s Rest Hiker Haven. We ended up getting back to the trail a little before 11:00 a.m.
We climbed up out of the valley, which took most of the afternoon. After we reached the top we saw the next water source after an upcoming tent site was going to be ten miles up the trail. We had two options: add water to our heavy packs and keep going or call it a day and camp there.
We decided to call it a day and set up camp at the water source. This was a little risky because we had assumed this day would be a full day (around 15 miles) of our six days of food. We hoped we would be able to make up the miles as our packs got lighter.
Day 74: 3,650 ft ascent, 17.5 miles
Today was my birthday! What better way to spend the day than hiking?
Erik had been looking at new backpacks to replace his that wasn’t fitting well. REI had a weekend 20% off sale, so I started looking at ones that would fit me since he was looking.
I found one that I would get if I were buying one. I looked over at my pack then put my phone back down. Sure I would love a bigger pack than my 50 liter that I struggle to fit everything into coming out of town. I would love a lighter pack that had less features. But the pack I had got me this far and I didn’t need to spend the money.
We started down the trail and were having our usual conversations about nothing. Suddenly Erik asked me if I wanted a new pack for my birthday! I was hesitant to say yes at first, but the more I thought about it the more I really wanted one.
We placed the order and shipped it ahead to Daleville. The rest of the day I was so excited thinking about getting a lighter pack with more space. I didn’t want to add anything to my pack, but it would be easier to pack what I already have with just a little more space.
Day 75: 2,540 ft ascent, 12.1 miles
We had one big climb for the day in the afternoon. As we got about halfway up it, I noticed it was getting cloudy and checked the forecast. Rain in 30 minutes. Wonderful. We had no choice but to keep walking because we didn’t have enough water to stop for the night and there wouldn’t be any more water until we got down the other side of the mountain.
It started pouring as we made the decent. It was a short-lived storm, but enough to get us soaked. We decided to stop at the next shelter and set up the tent before any more rain came through. It’s much easier to set up when it’s not raining.
Although we were happy to get our wet clothes off, we were getting behind schedule to get to Daleville before our food ran out. We were keeping an eye on our mileage and starting to figure out contingencies to get more food if we needed them.
Day 76: 2,160 ft ascent, 12.6 miles
Although we needed to keep moving, we decided to start late and let the lingering rain from the day before finish out. We got started just before noon and had an easier day.
That evening we got to a shelter to tent and were surprised to find it pretty busy! We hadn’t been seeing too many other hikers the prior few weeks. We speculated many of the hikers we saw were section or weekend hikers planning to hike the Virginia Triple Crown.
Day 77: 3,860 ft ascent, 15.2 miles
We made it to the first of the Virginia Triple Crown locations near the end of the day: Dragon’s Tooth. I didn’t know anything about it before I got there, but boy did I enjoy climbing to the top and taking in the views!
As we came down the trail from the Dragon’s Tooth, we encountered the first section of trail that had some more technical rock climbing. Erik and I go to the climbing gym at home so we navigated it relatively easily, but we spent most of our time with our eyes on Jake. While there were many areas where he surprised me with his agility, there were a few spots we had to lift him down. We were all happy to make it to the campsite and get to sleep that night after an exhausting day.
Day 78: 2,660 ft ascent, 9.6 miles
Due to a series of unfortunate events, I ran out of fuel for my stove. The day before I had to drink cold instant coffee with cold oatmeal and grits. Instant coffee fills a need when backpacking when it’s hot coffee. When it’s cold, it’s just downright disgusting. There was a gas station only half a mile off of the trail in the morning. I made a beeline to it to get hot coffee and hopefully more fuel.
The gas station was nothing that I had hoped for. They barely had any hot coffee so I had to settle for a cappuccino from a machine that was almost as bad as cold instant coffee. Then I found out they only had really large one-pound gas canisters, twice the biggest size I wanted to carry! I decided I would tough it out another day and went outside to tell Erik the news.
A group of three section hikers were at the gas station at the same time as us. One of them overheard me telling Erik about the gas situation. Next thing I knew, he was handing me his fuel because they were getting to their car later that day! That small act of kindness really brightened my day!
Day 79: 3,340 ft ascent, 17.7 miles
Erik heard some hikers walking by our camp around 4:30 a.m. They were headed to McAfee Knob for the sunrise. He woke me up and asked if I wanted to do the sunrise. Next thing I knew we were booking it up the trail to drink our morning coffee with a view!
The sunrise itself was underwhelming, but the view was spectacular! We spent about an hour eating breakfast and enjoying the view. We took off down the trail with our light packs empty of food determined to get to Daleville for our lunch/dinner.
I had read online about a local restaurant that served free banana pudding to thru-hikers. Count us in! All day on the trail all of the hikers we passed were talking about the banana pudding.
Three Li’l Pigs BBQ did not disappoint. We got amazing sweet potato fries, pulled pork plates, and of course the banana pudding. They were even kind enough to bring out a water bowl for Jake! Erik and I have already discussed reasons we might need to make a trip back to that area to eat there again.
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