Virginia part II: Fun in Rain and Bears
Jenkins shelter to Bland, Va
We finally got a night away from the rain at Jenkins shelter. My plan this day was to go into Bland to pick up my replacement hammock tarp and spend a night in town away from the rain showers that had parked over the section of Va I was currently in. I woke up and it was clear for the moment. I tried to make breakfast and of course the rain started again. I ate and then made my way to the road crossing where you can get a ride into Bland, Va. I fit a ride into town to the post office, picked up my tarp and then headed to the Zero Days Inn, known as the Days Inn hostel in AWOL. It is a new hostel about 10 miles north of Bland. It has most of the amenities hikers need and the owner gives shuttles to town and the trail head for reasonable fees. If you are coming through through the area and don’t want to stay at the hotel with no laundry I recommend the Zero Days Inn ran by a former AT hiker.
Since I knew I was planning for less than 15 miles out of Bland I ate breakfast in town and waited until lunch to head out. About 30 minutes into my hike it started to ran and continued to rain until I got to the shelter with all my soaked hiking clothed. We set up camp and defrosted our fingers and toes and set in for another rainy night but at least I had my new tarp to keep the down pour at bay.
After a long night of rain which my new tarp seemed to do a good job of keeping the rain on the right side of I woke up at Jenny Knob after the long rainy day before. I ate breakfast and then put all my wet clothes on and set out on my way to the next shelter and closer to town. The rain had finally broke and the sun even came out a little the first part of the morning. I noticed in the book that there was a grocery store 0.5 miles off trail up ahead and reading the guthook comments about their grill I decided it would be wrong to not support this business who caters to the thru hiker crowd. After a short road walk I was at Trents Grocery. If you have yet to have the option to go here I recommend you do. They have great food and even hiker resupply. After eating a lot we set back out to the road to go on to the next shelter. Next. On the agenda for the day was a shirt blue blaze trail to Dismal Falls. We stopped at the Falls had a snack and then pushed the second half of the day to Wapiti shelter. I may have not got a lot of trail miles in but seeing the sun and having a cheeseburger for lunch was worth it.
After a cool night at Wapiti shelter I woke up had breakfast and headed out. The trail goes very close to Woods Hole Hostel. I only wish I had planned to get here around night time so I could stay but I got there at lunch time and decided to move on after lots of their homemade cookie bars and a giant milk shake I was off to find somewhere to camp right before town with plans of going into town the next day. During my hike I almost ran into a white tail deer running across the trail. I’m not sure who was more startled. Plans are to head into to Pearisburg to get a package from the post office and a lot of town food.
After having a great Nero day in town which consisted of one of my family members coming through town and taking me to the pizza buffet, town goal one check, and Walmart, town goal two check we once again made the walk to Hardees and ate lots of breakfast with the coffee club guys who seemed to stay until lunch. After figuring we actually had to quit drinking coffee and go hike if we actually wanted to get to Maine we set out to make the walk to the trail head. That is Captain, Bartender, and myself. We hiked until about lunch and got to Rice field Shelter . The view was great and lots of folks decided to stay there and take a short day but I needed to do about 18 a day to get to my pick up for trail days on the weekend coming up so I pushed on. The next shelter we would come to was Pine Swamp Branch but it was closed due to deadfall warnings from damaged gypsy moths had done to trees near the shelter. We camped a few miles before the shelter beside a stream in a literal tiny boulder field that had some trees. It was hard even for hammocks but never would have been an option for tents. I got my 11′ dutchwear hammock and tried it out for the first time it’s a little interesting to get my 11′ tarp over it but I think with practice I will have to set up down. The plan is to do another big day tomorrow to push towards pick up for trail days.
Woke up at our improvised camping spot near the stream and made breakfast on what ever level surfaces we could find. We took the short walk to Pine Swamp Shelter which has been closed due to damage from gypsy moths. We made a trudge up the hill to Bailey gap shelter. The trail going up to the shelter forgot switch back so it’s an interesting climb. After Bailey gap I went and took a look at the amazing view from Wind rock after the heat and climbs of the day we stopped at Warspur shelter which gave us a total of 13 hard earned miles. Looking at a good hill tomorrow to get back up on the ridgeline.
Just as the last update promised this day started off with quite the hill. The first section wasn’t too too bad but then it turned into what looked like an old road. Funny thing about roads is the dont need switchbacks. The hill took a few hours and then we were up on the Ridgeline to enjoy it’s views and spotty cell phone coverage. Around this time I found out my ride to trail days had feel through so I made other plans to take a zero in daleville or troutville to celebrate 700. We made our way to the next shelter and ate lunch with a few section hikers going sobo. After the shelter we made our way through meadows and fields. This eventually led to the Keffer Oak, the largest Oak tree on the southern AT. After a snack and a liter of questionable water from near the Oak it was back up on the ridgeline. This part of the ridgeline line is near the eastern continental divide and it to turns out there trail builders decided to use solid rocks as part of the trail you get to hop to and from in what ever weather is there. Luckily for us it was dry weather. After a brief break from rock hoping my group saw not one but TWO black bears. They both looked to be about junvinile age and where running and playing after one another too much to even realize hikers were near them. Shortly after this I ran out of water and started the long 4 mile walk to Niday shelter. Luckily there was a stream about a mile before it so I got some water and mosied on to the shelter.
This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!
To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.