May 7. We woke up after it had rained all night and luckily it stopped raining so we could pack our wet gear…but we were heading into town today so life was good! We hiked across ridges and downhill for a few hours. Yesterday the trek up to McAfee Knob was nice and I enjoyed the views from the top but later in the day as we wound around the ridge we came to the Tinker Cliffs and we walked along huge rock cliffs for about a mile and I really liked that part of the day best. Today we crossed a few sections of trails with TONS of cicadas hanging in the trees. I mean swarms. The trail was full of holes in the ground where the bugs had crawled out and up the plants and trees. The trees were better decorated with cicadas and shells than most Christmas trees in December. It was pretty crazy! Coming into Daleville, VA we are officially 722 miles into our hike, making progress! We hit town around 11 AM and stopped to pick up some packages and headed to McDonald’s for first lunch. One package was from our buddy Chaos who gave us a hitch up to Newfound Gap in the Smoky Mountains. He sent us some snacks as well as McDonald’s and Subway gift cards! We both had a Big Mac meal and sat and used the wireless internet on our phones until 1 PM when we had second lunch, a 20 piece McNugget each. After the lunches we walked back to the hotel and checked in. We walked down to the local outfitter store and I bought the Klymit X-Lite sleeping pad, a 6.1 ounce torso air pad, one of the lightest sleep systems on the market. This will replace the 20-plus ounce Big Agnes Air Core pad I have been carrying. My new sleeping bag for warm weather arrived as well. I traded out my Marmot Sawtooth down 15 degree sleeping bag (3 lbs) for the Big Agnes Pitchpine down 45 degree sleeping bag, 1 pound 2 ounces. I shipped the heavier gear home along with my hiking long pants, long shirt, gloves, and a few dry bags and other random items. All together I sent home around 6 or 7 pounds of gear and replaced it with about a pound and a half, getting lighter! We stopped by the grocery store and headed back to the hotel. Meat went with a big group of hikers to get BBQ but I bought a salad and fruit from the grocery store and ate that at the hotel.
May 8. Today is 2 months from the first day on the trail! A lot has changed in my hiking style, my backpack and gear, and my comfort on the trail. Things are moving along and in 2 months of walking we have covered over 700 miles! Flosser, now going by the trail name KILIMANJARO, made it to town shortly before 11 AM and we headed over to the Cracker Barrell for lunch. We had a geat meal and spent some time relaxing in the rocking chairs on the front patio and headed back to the hotel. Yesterday Meat and another hiker bought Lafuma Extreme 600 sleeping bags from the outfitter store, 20 percent off…$65! This is a 45 degree sleeping bag like the Pitchpine I just got the day before…but it is synthetic material, has a full length zipper and the mummy bag hood, all for only 2 ounces more than the Big Agnes, and the Lafuma compresses down quite a bit smaller! Although the Pitchpine down sleeping bag is probably more robust and would last longer and keep me a bit warmer, this economical bag was too good to pass up. I bought myself a new sleeping bag and for the second day in a row walked to the post office to mail home a sleeping bag. On the way there a guy named Richard stopped and picked me up and took me to the post office and waited for me and drove me a mile back to the hotel. We got to talking and he said he got interested in the AT last year through Trail Journals and blogs and this year decided to see what he could do to help out hikers. Throughout the rest of the day Richard was driving back and forth from the hotel to the post office to the grocery store and all over town hauling hikers and gear. A real trail angel, thanks Richard! For dinner we walked over to Three Little Pigs BBQ and had some great food and drinks! We highly recommend this spot if you are ever near Daleville! It was a fun last dinner with Flossermanjaro-AT and tomorrow Meat and I will hit the trail and he will head home to Santa Barbara.
May 9. Woke up in the hotel…and what a hotel! It is another one of those trail hotels that most people would just pass by and never consider stopping for the night…but it does the job for us! We had breakfast and got packed…I sure am ready to get back on the trail and get in my tent! After a night or two in a hotel my tent seems comfortable, safe, and normal. We tried filling our water bottles at the hotel but the water there tasted so bad. It’s funny that I can’t wait to get back in the mountains and drink water from the springs and streams rather than the city treated water. But then again, in every day life people pay a dollar a bottle for “mountain spring” water and on the trail we get it for free on a daily basis with the water coming right out of the rocks on the sides of mountains.
On a side note…the straw hat with the visor in the brim I picked up a few days ago is already in a hiker box…it wasn’t as “cool” as I thought it would be. It ended up holding the heat on my head and blocking the breeze from my face, which was a bad combination. I liked the hat, but maybe it would have been better off the trail.