Walking through the woods this morning under an already blistering sun, I found myself singing a variation on an old Lovin’ Spoonful 60’s hit, “Hot now summer on the AT……..” To divert my attention from the heat, I catalogued all hikers that I had hiked with for any length of time. There was Slim Jim from Hiawassee to the NOC, Jolly from Franklin to the Smokies, Piddlin’ Around in the Smokies, Molar Man from north of Erwin to Iron Mountain, and Speck from Pearisburg to Jennings Creek. I also spent considerable time with Kermit and Grinch in the Smokies and Whiskers and Rocket from Deep Gap, NC to Damascus. Today I hiked alone.
Before heading back to the trail, Quicksilver and I walked down to a country store for some breakfast sandwiches and coffee. Then we sat around the gazebo with Peach, enjoying the early morning fellowship over breakfast. Bob, along with Shadow and Cookie (his cat), also visited. At around 7:30 Bob drove me back to the Lewis Mountain Campground where I had concluded my hike yesterday. I bid Bob and Shadow farewell as they drove away. Then I walked down a side trail for about fifty yards to the AT. Even though I had only been around Bob for less than twenty-four hours, I felt like I was saying goodbye to an old friend.
Like other recent days I saw no thru hikers at any time today. I met a few southbound sectioners and was passed by one shirtless northbound hiker who said he had just begun his hike today. Walking at a brisk pace, he disappeared rather quickly. Just wanting to get the miles done, I only stopped to chat once with a day hiker looking for Hawksbill Mountain. Having passed it within the last few minutes, I offered directions to the young lady who introduced herself as Susan from Atlanta.
Earlier in the day, around noon to be exact, I walked up a gravel road to Skyline Drive which led to the Big Meadows Wayside. Before going in for lunch I talked awhile with Paul with Bunions, a 2010 thru hiker who was working on another complete trail in sections. Most of the clientele, however, consisted of old men who resembled Morty Seinfeld with their white haired wives. A few biker types mingled around as well. The Virginia Ham and Swiss sandwich and salad were worth the extra mile of walking.
After lunch I returned to the trail by the same route. Even though I rested regularly, I still hiked more sluggishly in the afternoon. Drinking both water and electrolytes in large amounts, I hoped to prevent the depleted feeling I experienced yesterday. Views were more plentiful which in a small way offset the heat. At one time I heard thunder rumbling in the distance, but it never rained. By the time I reached Skyland I was ready for a room, a shower, and a meal. After a little negotiation I was able to get a hiker rate at the rustic resort, even though this is by far my most expensive bed. But there’s a restaurant a stone throws from my room, which also means a hearty breakfast in the morning.
After checking in I ventured down to the tap room for some supper. Also dining were Blister and his two adult children, Bison and Raging Spider.
The Texas folks are section hiking from Waynesboro to Harper’s Ferry. I had seen them on the trail late this afternoon and shared with them my affinity for indoor accommodations. After finishing my meal I felt obliged to apologize for disrupting their life in the woods with the suggestion of a room. All seemed to actually be a bit appreciative. After all, they can return to the rigors of tents and shelters tomorrow.
So as I sit in the Slyland dining facility working on this journal entry, I’m reminded of the other time I stayed here. When Alton and I section hiked from Harper’s Ferry to Rockfish Gap in 2006, we also took refuge here one night. Tomorrow I’m planning to get to Elkwallow Gap where Mike Evans will pick me up to take me to his Front Royal Hostel. Another hot day is in the forecast. I best get a good night’s rest so that I’ll be ready for another day of adventure on the Appalachian Trail.