It was wonderful to see Karrie a few weeks ago on the trail! I met up with her and her hiking buddies between McAfee's Knob and Dragon's Tooth (both very beautiful places) and started hiking south. We were lucky enough to have one beautiful day with great views before the rain set in. We were then lucky enough to have 2 more days of constant rain, which made the brief moments of blue sky on day 4 all the more glorious. Despite the rain, it was great to have a few days of simply walking and talking and catch a glimpse of life on the trail.
I nearly killed Anna, or so my hiking mates say. The first day we did 14 miles, the second...23.5. Yeah, I know. That's a lot of miles.
But we had a great time, didn't we Anna? The first day we had some of the most spectacular views on the AT: we watched the sunrise over McAfee's Knob, and then took on the Dragon's Tooth toward mid afternoon.
We finished off the day with a trip to "The Home Place" in Catawba, VA. Now, Marshall, a most recent trail acquaintance of mine expressed his disgust at how hiker trail journals and blogs tend to degrade into food diaries. I.e.... "...I had 4 platefuls of sweet and sour chicken, 2 run-thrus of the McDonald's dollar menu and 3 scoops of super chunk brownie fudge from the local creamery...tomorrow we're going to climb Bear Mountain, but first I'm going to get a 2 pound cheese burger from Mike's Barbecue, and at least 5 orders of...etc."
I agree. The trail isn't just about the things we eat. But an exception must be made on occasion and I make it now. Have you been to The Home Place in Catawba, VA? It's amazing. The restaurant is a popular spot. There you can gorge yourself family-style on fried chicken, barbecued pulled pork, sliced roast beef, mashed potatoes, collared greens, spiced sugared apples, sweet tea, and cranberry cobbler with vanilla ice cream. MmmMmm. We feasted.
At first it was a small hiker group: Todd (an awesome section hiker from Ohio we had met a few days before), Vickie (my Aunt), Professor, Curse, Anna and I. Then Disney, Plugger, Sea Monster, and Fiddler sat down at the table next to ours. Soon after that Pooh Bear, Mama Pooh Bear and Mighty Mouse joined in, and I became a part of the largest gathering of southbound thru hikers many of us had seen yet. Anna ate as much as she comfortably could, and Fiddler ate for 5. I once again discovered that my appetite is quite a bit larger than my stomach and ate for 2.
That night we enjoyed some of Fiddler's music in the shed behind the Catawba General Store, and then hobbled back to our campsite right by the road. Anna and I gossiped in French and then promptly fell asleep. The next day was our 23.5 mile day--a long day for sure, but we did it. The rain came in the night and drenched the trail. Curse and Professor made it 13 miles and then Curse came down with mild hypothermia. Mild he says...but I think mild and hypothermia make quite the oxymoron. Anna and I made 5 miles, and I'm glad we didn't go farther. That was happily the shortest day I've had on the trail. Blue skies greeted us the next morning and we had a spectacular view from Wind Rock which is were the first picture in this post was taken. I had such a great time with Anna and I can't wait until we tackle our next big thing together. Anna, your state is beautiful.