I slept fairly well with someone I knew close by. It’s hard to describe the feeling of security when your alone in the woods with predators near by. Having someone with you during the night lessons the need for alertness. Waking up I decided the pizza I hiked out was way too heavy and decided to Trail magic to other hikers. Apparently the last group through partnership didn’t get pizza, leaving it for them hopefully made thier day better. Packed up and ready to go, the two of us set out for a good long day of hiking.
The day was filled with an odd assortment of events, some big highs and some big lows. After we had passed our first shelter for the day, we encountered a legend in his own time, Warren Doyle. Warren Doyle, Santa Clause, is a 16 time AT hiker, 9 thruhikes and 7 sections. We spoke with him briefly and were honored to share sometime with him. Taking a quick picture we were off again. Down the mountain to Atkins we went.
Just as we came to the bottom of the valley we could hear the sound of a train approaching. I yelled to Goodfoot that we should run for it and try to beat the train. The two of us took off like lighting,hauling ass across the few bridges in the swamp to make the train. Just as we crossed d the tracks the train showed up a hundred yards down the track from us. The train whizzed by creating so much noise as their and metal on metal screamed past us. We had met a legend and just beat a train what more could happen for the day.
Taking a quick break we ate Mexican food at a gas station in Atkins VA. Believe it or not the food was amazing and it was cheap to boot. Eating our fill of tacos and burritos we crossed the highway and back into the fields. This is where Scott Jurec, the Ultra marathoner, passed us on a long uphill. Heading had started just a few weeks ago and was already in Virginia. Scott was a very nice and pleasant person to talk with. He took the time to get photos with us and to chat before blazing back up the trail.
We were so close to our biggest high point for the day that we didn’t even notice a sign for it. We had passed our 1/4 of the trail with no notification. We were perplexed as we hiked on. It wasn’t long after this that we encountered Snapshot coming in our direction. Both of us were just talking about him and we couldn’t have been more excited to see him. After a quick hug he told us he was going home, his house situation had gotten 9ut of hand and needed him to return. I couldn’t have felt sadder in that moment, I thouht Gary would have gone all the way, so did Goodfoot. We would spend the next hour talking about him and wondering who else was not going to make it. We both thought Gary had this in the bag.
On our way to our final resist spot for those night we were blessed with another occurrence of Mr. Doyle. Chatting briefly again we headed out down the mountain side pay the quarter sign which was miles off to a large field. Someone had mowed a large section clean at the top of the biggest hill for camping. Taking every advantage of our location we camped under the stars for the night. The fireflies lit up the entire field, millions of them dancing among the trees and grass before we settled in after a long emotional day.