Day 58. Just as I hit publish on yesterday’s blog, another hiker walked up. So I’ve still yet to have a night alone in the woods, as she set up for the night in the shelter too. I had gotten used to the idea of it, but it’s still always nice to have company. We briefly chatted, as it was a woman my age named Whitewater I met the day before, then called it a night.
As expected, it rained last night. And through the morning. I had a steep climb up Bluff Mountain all morning, which was covered in clouds and mist, as is par for this week. But I powered through, and stopped for a long snack at Punchbowl Shelter after 10 miles. It slowly cleared up after this and warmed quickly. By the time I climbed up the smaller Rice Mountain, it was beautiful blue skies the rest of the way.
Unfortunately, the morning’s damp hike did not aide in my blister recovery. My treatment overnight seemed to work well, but they started hurting again early in the day. I stopped at one of the many stream crossings for lunch and aired out my little piggies. It felt great to rest and give those hot spots some air. Before heading out, heeding the advice from others yesterday, I changed in to dry socks for the rest of the day. Besides being dry, these were also Injinji Toe Socks … great for blister prevention. The rest of the day felt like walking on new feet! These socks are normally my sleep socks, but since tonight is a town night, no need to worry about keeping them clean.
I arrived at the predetermined meeting spot (US Road 60) just after 4pm and had a wonderful hour to rest in the sun while waiting for my sister, brother-in-law, and nephews to arrive. I chit-chatted with a few weekend hikers starting their mini adventures, but was quickly alone. It was a nice alone though, basking and resting in the sun after 20 miles hiked.
Then the fun started!
My sister and her family rolled in a half hour later and many hugs and photos were had immediately. I showed my nephews where the bathroom was (tree), and where the trail was (tree adjacent). The cover photo above may or may not include both. This was the first time I’d seen anyone from my pre-thruhike life, since seeing off Gandalf and The Captain at Neels Gap, so we caught up on all the happenings at home on the drive back to Lexington.
Lexington is a really cool town about 15 miles from the trail. Buena Vista is the first town you see, and probably the more likely stop for hikers to resupply/rest, but do not rule Lexington out. First of all, Buena Vista is pretty bad. Not much to look at as we drove through, just a motel, gas station and Family Dollar that I recalled. Maybe a Hardee’s too. But keep going and you have everything your heart desires. Every fast food chain, actual (and really nice) sit down restaurants, an outfitter, grocery, movie theater and much much more. There are 2 colleges in this city, so it has a great college town feel and atmosphere.
We went to dinner at Rocca Bar Restaurante, which was exceptionally nice. You know how every college town has that one fancy place you go to for fraternity formals and graduation dinners? This was it. This restaurant was everything hiker trash like me did not belong in. But I donned my least smelly / most clean clothes and we went out to celebrate the family reunion in style. And that I did! One look at the menu and I knew I was in heaven … I downed an appetizer, salad, steak, veggies, bread and a beer all on my own in minutes.
During dinner, I caught them all up on the day, and filled in holes from stories they read about over the past 2 months. It’s funny how they already new mostly everything I’ve done from reading this blog, and made the story telling more like story expanding and clarification. I realized again how happy I am to share my daily story here with so many people, and think it will make discussing the experience with family and friends when it’s over so much more tangible and enjoyable. I encourage any future hiker to blog their journal!
After dinner, we strategized the weekend game plan. Tomorrow, they will drop me back off at mile 807.8 on US Road 60, and I’ll slack pack 25 miles to where they’ll meet me later. They will even day hike southbound a couple mile to meet me and hike back to the road together. This will be my first slackpack day, but 25 miles without a full backpack sounds pretty easy.
After that, I called it a night … almost. This family rendezvous was timed perfectly for one more reason. Today was the release of the new Avengers movie, and Lexington has a theater showing it. I dropped everyone back at at the hotel and then went to a late night screening to get in my highly anticipated viewing. Two thumbs up, worth all the hype! Quite a lot packed in that film, but done extremely well.
Now it’s off to sleep in a warm bed with nothing but blue sky and easy hiking ahead of me.
Hello Neiman (Sharkbait!)
- Start Mile: 787.7
- Start Time: 08:30
- End Mile: 807.8
- End Time: 16:10
- Miles Hiked: 20.1
- Miles to Go: 1383.1
- Lodging: Holiday Inn (Lexington, VA)