And so it came to pass that Ziptie,, having consumed a breakfast sandwich, was dropped off at the road crossing of her choice, to hike northwards for a stretch of 7 or so miles.
And along the way, she encountered a long climb up a mountain, a monument to Audie Murphy, delighted hugs from hikers Buffalo and Budget (“you are like a bad penny!”), necessary traffic redirection for other hikers going southbound (“no, the trail is over there, not this way”), a final, welcome encounter with hiker Snooze/Malachite, and a beer!
I took my time, knowing I had plenty of time – as usual, I was wrong! Because after the shuttle picked me up, I requested a stop for ice cream, and we were just pulling into the hostel when up rolls my cousin Jean! 🙂 The man is resourceful – all I said was that I was staying at a hostel in the area, and he did all the research to find out everything else and be there before I could even call him!
We headed off to Roanoke, 15 miles away, for some Mexican food (oh, so good, I ate too much!), and to wander the city a little, he knows it well. During the touring and the talking, a Plan came together. Sometimes that happens!
So, last night, a hiker hostel, on an unfolded easy-chair kind of bed. Tonight, the Sheraton, in the lap of luxury. And then some! Life is never predictable, but it sure is fun!
We’ll hike 8 miles tomorrow, over Dragon’s Tooth, and down to one of the shelters, then get a shuttle back to where we will leave his car. Then a 4 hour drive to Newport News, where I will hopefully be able to see some of my other cousins as well! Wednesday will be touring around historic areas, and then in Thursday, Richmond will only be a hour’s drive away, Jean will drop me off to catch my flight. A much better Plan than rattling around a hostel for days, and then catching a Greyhound.
So this is it, people. One more 8 mile stretch of hiking, and I leave the trail, having completed 2/3 of a dream. I will be back in 2 years to do the other third. It’s been real, it’s been fun, it’s been a challenge, it’s been a real fun challenge…
I hike on!