Waking up refreshed more so than the day before I was out like a rocket. Pushing hard to the next shelter for water and breakfast. I must have stayed too long sine the other hikers caught me at the shelter, I have to keep up a faster pace if I’m going to put some distance between me and the stuff behind me. Miles miles miles is all I thought about as I pushed over the ridgelines. The terrain went from eastern shore forrest to Midwest in seconds. All I thought about was snakes and what would happen if I got bit by one.
Miles after miles I played out the snake scenario in my head. This dry, rocky, arid area had me thinking more New Mexico than Virginia. Everything We different form the landscape to the shrubbery. Every open sunny spot was place for snakes to reside and soak up the sun, every shady rocky was a den to get out of the heat. So hot and tired I became exhausted coming over the last ridge. I had no more in the tank and was slowly breaking down. I had been pushing hard and needed a break. I would have to take one when I got to town as I struggled to maintain my speed down to the gap.
What wa this, a camp set up, I thought trail magic but reminded myself that the Doyle group would end up here. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, I sure hope it was though. Jackpot, I was greeted by a wonderful woman who had thruhiked many years ago and was cooking dinner. She asked if I could stay a while and in return she would provide a good dinner and some dessert for me. I thought of how tired I was and obliged becoming engrossed in conversation while we waited. When you are truly hungry anything will taste good. I hate humus, beans, and coleslaw, but good grief it was delicious.
The chili and watermelon hit the spot, I was full and rested, she had refilled my sprits, my energy and my stamina for the day. Out and up the next mountain I climbed with ease. The rocks and roots were no match for the well fed hiker. The miles flew by as I reached the ridgeline. This ridgeline would move up and down steadily all the way to Dragons Tooth lookout. Dropping my pack, my body felt strange as I walked with no weight. My legs and arms over moved and I looked like I had no control of my actions as I lumbered down the blue blaze to the teeth. Taking a picture quickly I climbed to the top to get more. I didn’t want to be up here long.
It was going to be dark soon and I didn’t want to go down this with my headlamp. Each time I night hike on rough terrain I have a hard time with depth perception at my feet. The severely steep climb down was a bit unnerving. I wasn’t high enough for death but I was just high enough to know I would break something if a fell to the rocks below. The three inch lips in the rocks are all I had to climb down on with my pack. On a few occasions I had to throw my poles down to navigate the terrain. Finally I hit flat ground and jogged down the trail. I just wanted to get my tent set up and sleep at this point.
Sitting in my tent I heard another hiker come down the mountain minutes later. It was Waldo and he was 15 minutes behind me on the trail, where I had low-light he had night and couldn’t have been happier to see me. We chatted for a bit as I packed up and pushed out to the hostel for the night. It was a free hostel and free was a for me. Moving swiftly we made it to the road and up to the driveway. Here we were greeted by other hikers who took our packs and gave us a beer, welcoming us home for the night.