May 16, 2013
Today’s mileage: 22.0
Total mileage: 852.3
We had a record start time this morning! We were up and ready to go a few minutes before 8:00 AM. Good thing we left early though, because we had a long day ahead of us.
To start out the day, we had an 1100 ft. climb over 3.3 miles up to the top of Three Ridges Mountain. It was a warm morning, so we began sweating almost immediately. I felt pretty good after an almost 22 mile hike yesterday, but I’m still glad that I had John, Paul, George, and Ringo to help me climb up that mountain this morning. We had an awesome view back to The Priest, which looked massive from Three Ridges. Jerry Garcia & the gang provided some tunes on the descent followed by my all-time favorite and Charlottesville-based Dave Matthews Band. Hiking in Virginia wouldn’t be complete without some DMB!
We took a short break at Maupin Field Shelter before heading to Reeds Gap at the Blue Ridge Parkway. From word of mouth, we had heard about Devils Backbone Brewery. We didn’t know how far off the trail it was or if we it would even be feasible to hitch a ride. But we were desperate hikers in need of a hearty meal and a tasty beer. We got a ride from a woman heading down to Wintergreen, a retirement community that was a couple of miles down the road. She had to go into work, so we then had to get another ride from there to the brewery. We walked for about ten minutes before a man heading to the brewery gave us a ride in the back of his truck. The breeze blowing on our faces as we headed down the road was not to be matched.
The brewery was awesome. We sat in the dining room with the AC blowing and in the comfort of a cushioned booth. We both downed the pulled pork sandwich. I ordered sweet potato fries as well, which were delicious. We started with the beer sampler and I ended up getting the Ale of Fergus, a dark, malty beer. Everyone there was so nice and very accommodating to hikers. Chris, the manager, said we could tent on the property if we wanted to stay and we could even get a $5 breakfast tomorrow and a ride back to the trail. We had miles to do today, so we couldn’t stay, but they were great people. He gave us free pins and bumper stickers and we even got a ride back to the trail from one of the girls who worked there! They are planning to open a hostel next year and get into AWOL’s guidebook. Our time at the brewery was the perfect way to spend an afternoon.
We were back on the trail by 2:00, just in time for a thunderstorm. As I mentioned before, I absolutely hate thunderstorms, but I had no choice today but to continue hiking through the thunder and lightning. The closest shelter north was about 12 miles. I just put my head down and hiked quickly, trying to keep my mind off the storm. Thankfully, it never got too bad near us. The thunder was right over head for awhile, but I didn’t see any nearby lightning strikes and the rain didn’t last long. Although the rain did cool us off, so I won’t complain about that.
I was so relieved when the storm cleared out as we crossed the Blue Ridge Parkway once more. We had a climb up Humpback Mountain and then it was mostly downhill to the shelter. By this point, my feet were killing me and one of the blisters near the bottom of my heel started to hurt again. These things just won’t seem to go away! I guess it’s hard for them to heal when I walk on them everyday though.
The last few miles seemed to take forever, as they always do when I’m tired and I’m in pain. We were however lucky enough to see a bear cub this evening! This was our first need sighting of the hike and the first time that we had seen a bear in the wild. The cub was down a steep hill off-trail, so it wasn’t too close to us. We stopped for a moment to get a good look at the cute cub, but made our presence known so we wouldn’t have an encounter with mother bear. Miles simply said a few words and the cub turned around and ran back downhill towards its mother we assume. I was so mad that my camera was inside my pack and I missed the opportunity to take a photo of the bear. But, I had put it away earlier because of the rain. We were pretty excited to see our first bear. We also know this means that we are definitely close to the Shenandoahs! We also saw two bright red birds with black wings. They were beautiful birds, but I had never see them before, so I’m not sure what they were.
We made it to the shelter around 7:45 after doing 14 miles after eating at the brewery. There was plenty of room in the shelter, so we set up in there. A ridgerunner, Regina, is here who we met outside of Glasgow a few days ago. It’s another warm night and I’m glad that the bugs aren’t as bad tonight. Heading to Waybesboro tomorrow!