Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Day 84: Daleville, VA to Campbell Shelter

Miles today: 15.4
Miles total: 1477.8

Currently sitting at the picnic table...

At this rate, Mohican will never get to use his tent. We've been hitting shelters (plus that one town visit), and he is of the mindset that it's stupid to set up your tent when the shelter is open. I too subscribe to this philosophy. Anyways, we hit the Hojo continental breakfast, with me laying waste to it and my dad not too far behind. I was pretty stressed about the condition of his knee, but he was optimistic after having a day of rest and acquiring a new knee support sleeve. We set off around 9 from the road crossing in town, over the rolling hills outside Daleville and up on to the ridge. Today was a total ridge walk after that, but not the bad kind you find in Pennsylvania. Yes, there were some rocks. But the views and sunshine more than made up for it. We made good time along our first leg, so we stopped for snacks. I had planned out a nine-mile day for us, considering my dad's condition over the last two days. That left us plenty of time to sit and enjoy the views to the valley below. We snuck up on some vultures, the stole their spot on a rock outcropping. They didn't seem too pleased with our intrusion, but then again I'm never too pleased with them on the whole. As we sat, Jim came to check out the overlook. He had taken a zero in Daleville yesterday, staying at the same hotel as us. He headed on, then so did we.

The next couple miles to the shelter were uneventful, but we got there by 2:30 or so. We had put in our mileage, but the question remained: could we make it the next 6 miles to the following shelter? The mosquitoes swarming around our heads made us decide to try, vowing that we would stop and tent if my dad's knee got worse. I'm so glad we went for it. The climb from the shelter led us up to Tinker Cliffs, a half-mile cliff walk with views across the valley to the next set of ridges and up to McAfee's Knob. Together these two sites make up some of the most iconic views on the entire AT. I couldn't help looking over to my right as we followed the trail along the cliffs. It must be one of my favorite views to date. The land below seemed unspoiled and green, with only a few small farmhouses dotting the land. It could have been from any era. We soaked it in, but had to head on to avoid getting to the shelter late. After some downhills that rattled my dad's knee but left it intact, we rose up some switchbacks and saw the shelter around the corner, a welcome sight. I immediately cooked some rice, but Mohican was too tired to think of food at that moment. When I came back from getting water, however, I was happy to see that he had dug in to a package of chicken. We share the shelter with Jim tonight, who is always a welcome face. The area here is really agreeable and the weather reminds me of fall. It also reminds me that this journey will come to an end before I know it. I crossed the 2/3 mark a couple days ago, and tomorrow I will drop below 700 miles to go. The emotions are a mixed bag, varying from excitement to be done to nostalgia for an adventure that isn't even over yet. Still plenty of miles to walk and plenty of sights to see and plenty of rhododendrons to smack me in the face.

-Rooster

Pictures: ridge walkin'; view from Tinker Cliffs; yeah I put chocolate on my chocolate, cry about it.



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