Shepherd and I left Damascus Sunday morning and headed north. We stopped in Christiansburg to shower and hang out with Scott. Caz was away for the weekend, unfortunately. (Missed you, Caz!) Then the three of us headed north once again to meet Stretch and Little Bear at The Homeplace Restaurant. It’s a southern family style restaurant and Little Bear and I had both missed out on eating there last year since they’re only open a few days a week. Going back was worth it! Oh, the fried chicken! I felt like a thru hiker eating again. Then I felt like a thru hiker even more when talk after dinner turned to postponing our day’s hiking plans until tomorrow in order to digest the massive amount of food we had just eaten and go sleep at someone’s house.
We dropped my car off at a nearby trailhead for our shuttle home, and ran into a thru hiker there. We all pulled some food out to give him for magic and he was super appreciative. Then we went to Little Bear’s cousin’s house outside of Roanoke for the night to catch up on sleep, which was severely lacking so far over the weekend. We also stopped at a grocery to pick up tons of candy and cokes to hand out to hikers on our section. We planned on going south from Daleville in order to run into all the northbounders.
We got dropped off at the trail in the morning and it was gorgeous weather, sunny and 70s. We ran into so many thru hikers! At first we were all competing to give them our candy first, and then we realized we were quickly running out of candy. I kept my candy in a grocery bag on the outside of my pack so people could easily reach in for some. The cokes were an especially big hit, and most of them were given out before we even reached a stream to leave them in to get cool, and then some Warrior Hikers walked right up and snagged the last three as soon as they were in the water.
Apparently there’s been amazing weather on the trail so far this year. There are already tons of flowers blooming: blackberry, mountain laurel, iris, lady slippers, azaleas, and more. It was a great hike up to Tinker Cliffs where we planned on camping for the night. I had missed the amazing views from here last year because it was pouring rain on me throughout this whole section so it was nice to be back. I cooked dinner on the cliffs just in time to catch the sunset.
Little Bear got a fire going and I spent some time rigging up my tent. I had forgotten my trekking poles in my car when we left it at the trailhead, and my trekking poles are also my tent poles. But with some strategic placement of the tent between a couple of trees, and plenty of paracord, I got it up. I was going to just cowboy camp but it was starting to get pretty windy up there and I didn’t want to be cold. I got such good sleep. I love being back in my tent.
In the morning, I enjoyed breakfast on the cliffs before moving down the trail. I had run out of candy the day before so I just chatted with all the northbounders and told them other people with candy were coming. It was another gorgeous day and I made it to McAfee Knob for lunch. There were a bunch of tourists up there, despite it being a week day, so we ate and bided our time, waiting for them to get out of the frame for the iconic picture. We finally had our chance, and I got a way better picture than last year. Shepherd also got some amazing shots, which I will share as soon as possible. He carries a professional camera setup and does some awesome compositions so I am excited to see them.
We had just been talking about seeing CitySlicka at Trail Days when he came walking up onto the rocks. We originally met him last year at Glasgow, where I told him he had the best calves on the trail. He pretty much just keeps moving up and down the trail though so those calves have over 13,000 miles on them. When we ran into him randomly at a campfire Saturday night, the first thing he did was show me his calves were still going strong. So I had to get a picture with them now that it was light out.
As we were sitting at the viewpoint, we started planning for dinner, which would be on the drive back north again. One thing led to another and we decided to see if Sharkey was home. I sent him a quick email and left my phone on as we started hiking down. He called me a little while later and was so excited to hear from us. We made plans to pick up some pizzas and head there for the night. It was great to catch up and we were once again up late, even though I had to be on the road by 6am for a previous engagement at home.