Mile 658.2 to Niday Shelter – 23.3 miles – Today’s Departure is Rough
To spend some extra time together, Ryder and I go to breakfast at 7 AM, before the girls and Beckett. After breakfast we load the car and drive to Mountain Lake Wilderness via VA 613, where I finished yesterday. The morning is cool and we are saying goodbyes and taking pictures. I play a little more with Ryder before we have to split. Understandably, he really does not want me to leave.
As I begin walking away, he is calling for me. I get about 30 yards up the trail before he comes running after me, sobbing, and calling for me. It is absolutely heartbreaking. I try to comfort him, but he is so upset I’m leaving. It isn’t so much that I am leaving to hike; I’m hiking without him. He wants to come with me so badly. Once again, there is not a short segment in this portion of the trail in which he can hike with me. We assure him I will be home in a couple weeks and then we will hike together. I promise. It takes about three tries to depart. We are both heartbroken as Lindsay carries him to the car as I hike away. Wow, this is really hard!
After the departure, I feel good, physically. My pack is lighter, since I was able to drop some weight. I am moving well. Most of the trail is smooth and fast. The trail would be great for my cyclocross bike. I arrive at the shelter, the earliest I have in a long time, about 5 PM. This feels weird, like I should still be hiking. I eat, relax, unwind, and then get organized for tomorrow.
I have a big day tomorrow. I have over 40 miles to Daleville, VA. At the Howard Johnson Express I’ll get a mail drop that Linds hand delivered today on her way home, and I’ll crash at the hotel for the night. I hope tomorrow is another gorgeous day.
At camp, I try calling home, but I have no service at the shelter. One of the hikers here is “Blink” from Boonsboro, MD.