Daleville, VA to Bryant Ridge Shelter – 32.0 miles
Best night’s sleep of the hike! It is sound, but also short at six and a half hours. I did not get to bed as soon as I should have, but I sleep a little late too. I eat breakfast at the hotel at 7 AM and I’m on the trail about 20 minutes later. The breakfast selection is poor.
It takes a couple hours for me to get my legs after yesterday’s big day (and the breakfast didn’t help either), before I start moving well.
Then it gets HOT. It is pushing 90 degrees and there are not many water sources when hiking along the Virginia ridges. Most of the trail is along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The heat slows me down. I notice there is not much camping available either.
About 3:30 PM, I stop at a stream, just down the embankment from a road crossing. As I’m getting water, I catch a glimpse of a Jeep’s brake lights as it disappears around the curve. A minute later a guy appears quickly walking up the road and calls down to me, “Are you a thru-hiker?” I reply, “Yes” and he asks, “Want some food?” Of course I say yes and he turns to run back to his vehicles. I leave my pack and water (as it’s being chemically treated) and go down the road to meet him.
He and his wife are from Roanoke and they have extra food from their picnic. It is pretty funny (though I don’t show my amusement) how excited the man is to see a thru-hiker and to give me food. We stand at the side of the road while they open one thing after another to feed me: PB&J, carrots, grapes, bottle of green tea, Combos, and Goldfish. We chat as I scarf down the food. They wish me “happy trails” and then we depart. I’m certain this encounter made this guy’s day.
Once I get back on the trail, I notice the heat is still on. There is not a lot of tree cover to provide shade and most of the day is on the ridge too. The sun beats directly on me.
As I’m hiking along in the late afternoon, about 4:45 PM, I had settled on going only 25 miles. I have a thought that in order for me to continue to the next shelter (at 32 miles for the day), I would need to pass the “25-mile” shelter very soon. Literally, immediately after this thought, I look to the right and there’s the shelter. It sits just off the trail, but enough that I could have missed it had I not turned my head. It’s just before 5 PM, feels too early to stop. I take a break and make dinner while I think about what I want to do. There is no water at this shelter, it’s 7 miles to the next one, and it’s only 5:10, I’m going on!
I feel much better after food and water and the lower temperature when the sun starts lowering. I cover the next seven miles in less than 2.5 hours and arrive at the shelter by 7:30 PM. I down two more liters of water in the last seven miles. That’s over six liters of water consumed today and it probably should have been more.
A southbound section hiker named Feather is at this nice, big, two story shelter. He’s an older man, probably in his late 60’s, early 70’s. He tells me just before he came out here for a long section hike, he had dropped his parents off at the airport. Immediately I was thinking, “Huh?! As old as you seem, your parents have got to be in their 90s.” He continues to say they are 92 and 95 years old and on their way to Hawaii for 71 days! He joked that his father does not even know why they are getting on a plane or where they are going.