I woke up early to use the bathroom, again hoping I wouldn’t disturb my camp mates. It was raining and very cold – I raced back to camp and jumped into my sleeping bag to warm up. I put on (I feel like I say this a lot) every piece of clothing I had and started packing up.
Because our “stealth camp” was essentially crammed onto the fringes of the Appalachian Trail itself, the four of us were able to plan for the day without even leaving our tents.
Savage needed to pick up a package from the Four Pines Hostel five miles up trail. We all agreed we’d hop off trail with her and dry out a bit as it was supposed to rain all day.
I ate a dry breakfast from within my tent and had a cup of cold instant coffee – I’m beginning to develop a taste for the “cold brew”.
By 7:30 we were packed and ready to go. The rain was coming down hard – the temp was in the upper 40’s. We quickly ascended the ridge and came upon the Dragon’s Tooth. My hands were numb – I snapped a quick picture before heading down to Newport Road.
The AT descends from the Dragon’s Tooth at a very nice grade. Despite the fact that the trail was flooded, we were making good time. We emerged onto Newport Road at 10:30 and headed for the hostel. I was very cold and wet at this point and seriously reconsidering my plan to hike on.
We made our way up the driveway to the Four Pines and walked in the door. I immediately saw a smiling face – Push had stayed there the night prior. She helped us get oriented.
If we chose to stay, all we needed to do was claim a cot and introduce ourselves to the caretaker. At this point, I was already nearly sold on staying. When I found out a shuttle for Daleville was leaving in an hour, I threw my pack next to a cot and changed into some dry clothes.
I hung my tent on a hook to dry and started unpacking. I pulled my phone out of my hipbelt and plugged it into the wall. While it’s in a Lifeproof case and was sealed in.a Ziploc bag, it got a little wet. I plugged in my exterior battery and let them both charge while I went into Daleville.
The first stop was the post office. Savage, Push and myself received packages. I got a new lens for my digital camera (I broke the original lens right before Damascus) along with some much appreciated protein bars and Dot’s Pretzels.
After that, we stopped by the outfitter – Black Santa had some gear waiting on him. I bought two new pairs of socks as well as a “professional” frisbee and a solar night light – I’ve been burning through batteries typing by headlamp.
Before I knew it, we were back at the hostel. Black Santa organized a laundry drop while I made a list of food I needed to buy once I finally hiked into Daleville.
This stop at the hostel came at the best time. I was able to do laundry and go to the post office – two things that would require serious hitching had I hiked in as planned.
About half an hour before we were to be shuttled to The Homeplace for their country buffet, Medicine Man walked in the door. He had consistently hiked about 4 miles behind us since leaving Pearisburg. Both him and Summer were drenched. As always, he was in great spirits. Summer collapsed on a cot and Medicine Man joined us for dinner.
After dinner, we hung around the hostel waiting for lights out at 10:00pm. I played a game of chess with Black Santa and kept checking on my phone and external battery to make sure both were okay.
Just as we were getting ready for bed, the door opened and Shaggy staggered in. He was drenched and red in the face from the cold rain. I was happy to see him – and extremely proud of him for hiking extra miles each day to catch up. I hadn’t seen Shaggy since I left to hike through the Grayson Highlands.
Medicine Man provided him with some leftover fried chicken and biscuits. We sat and caught up on all that had happened since last we saw each other. Before long, it was lights out and I retired to my cot to write.
Today was a little crazy. The cold rain was certainly unexpected – I’m thankful Savage had a package coming here, otherwise I might have spent the day huddled in my tent.
This is, by far, the nicest hostel I’ve stayed at (of the three so far).
Tomorrow, the weather looks nice – a little cool and cloudy, but with no rain. I’m glad I get to see McAfee Knob and the Tinker Cliffs in decent weather.
Saturday morning, I plan on walking into Daleville and resupplying at the Kroger for a six-day push to Waynesboro, VA.
Breakfast: the last of my peanut butter cup trail mix, protein bar
Snack: Dot’s Pretzels, Dr. Pepper
Dinner (at the Homeplace): fried chicken, BBQ pork, biscuits, gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans, 3 Arnold Palmers