Thursday–June 10, 2021
Location–Petites Gap Road, then to Stanimal’s 328 Hostel, Glasgow, Trail Mile 772.2
Nathan & Kimm thought of everything while preparing their trip to Virginia to support me. This morning Kimm sets up their waffle maker right here in the cabin, then whips up some batter, and before I know it–hot coffee, waffles and syrup, all setting right in front of me!
We’re back on the Parkway early, hardly any traffic to speak of, and the views into the valleys, out and across the Blue Ridge Mountains–ahh, just what the Blue Ridge Parkway is famous for!
The hike today is going to be very demanding. Climbs this morning will approach 4,000 feet, and this afternoon, a thousand more.
As the day wears on and the climbing continues, thunder can be heard along Thunder Ridge. Soon the rain begins, the sky opens and the deluge descends. The day has warmed nicely, so I decide to just let the rain cool me down and soak me good, which it does–for over an hour. The trail turns to creek as I slog my way on up the mountain. “Keep climbing old man, just keep climbing.”
The thunderstorm finally ends, just before my hike ends. Nathan & Kimm are right here at Petites Gap to greet me then take me off the mountain to Stanimal’s Hostel in Glasgow. Evening, we have a fine dining experience at Scotto’s, the local Italian restaurant.
A very difficult and tiring day. Took two good tumbles. No serious injury…
Fall seven times, stand up eight.
Wednesday–June 9, 2021
Location–Trail Junction, Bryant Ridge, Blueblaze Trail to Parking, then Shuttle (by Nathan & Kimm) to Middle Creek Campground, Trail Mile 762.5
Two nights at Super 8. An enjoyable stay in Daleville. Quick stop at McDonald’s and we’re soon cruising the Blue Ridge Parkway headed for the Peaks of Otter Overlook. Another glorious hiking day in the making!
The AT crosses the Parkway at the Peaks of Otter Overlook. From here I’ll stay the trail, which follows beside the Parkway. After crossing at Mills Gap, the AT leaves the Parkway to climb Cove Mountain. More rocks to contend with, but Nathan and Kimm have provided me much nourishment since coming to support me, and the improved stamina I’m enjoying as a result has me dealing much easier with the rocks. Truly a blessing!
A final long uninterrupted climb and I’m near the blue blazed trail to the parking area. Nathan has hiked in to join me. It’s a short hike to his truck where he loads me and takes me to Middle Creek Campground for supper–then to the finest little cabin for the night.
Have you seen God in His splendours, heard the text that nature renders?
(You’ll never hear it in the family pew.)
The simple things, the true things,
the silent men who do things–
Then listen to the wild–it’s calling you.
Tuesday–June 8, 2021
Location–Peaks of Otter Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway, then to Super 8 Motel, Daleville, AT Mile 749.6
Well, I’ll tell you what: Daleville is a gold star hiker town! Coming in by trail and reaching US-220, looking to the right there’s a Howard Johnson Express and a Motel 8. Only a block or two away there’s a Kroger plus most fast food restaurants. And by golly, hikers are welcome in Daleville. How about that!
This will be our (me, Nathan, Kimm) second night at Motel 8. Highly recommend it; a fine place. We’ve been to Three Li’l Pigs BBQ and Angelle’s Diner. Both are great local establishments. Three Li’l Pigs offers complimentary banana cream dessert to thru-hikers! Yup, just a mighty fine trail town.
Another climb first thing this morning to Fullhardt Knob. Then comes a bunch of ups and downs across spurs and into ravines, with the last climb (before reaching the Blue Ridge Parkway) being in excess of 800 feet.
A few decades ago a bunch of like-minded long distance hikers (mostly retired military fellows) put together a loosely organized group that became known as the “Blue Blazin’ Hobo Hiker Trash from Hell.” I had the great pleasure of joining them back in ’98 (by fulfilling the two main requirements): 1. Claim to be a long distance hiker, and 2. Profess to going some other way than the AT white blazes at some point on your thru-hike. I managed to meet both. I certainly was considered a long distance hiker, and while hiking the trail next to the Blue Ridge Parkway, I veered over to the Parkway to road walk it a fair distance (blue blazing).
Well, today, after over two decades of delinquency I decide to reactivate my membership by hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway again, from Taylor’s Mountain Overlook to Peaks of Otter Overlook, a distance of some five miles. This short section of the AT is little more than a stepchild of the Parkway, following along below it, the views being mostly of the Parkway culvert pipes. And from the parkway there? Glorious vistas–Taylor Mountain, Pine Tree Overlook, and the magnificent and mystifyingly Peaks of Otter (from where can be heard the Pipes of Pan). None of these views can be clearly seen from the trail.
Of course, this whole hiker trash thing came to be in order to add a bit of levity to the (serious) notion that to truly hike from Georgia to Maine, one had to follow the exact AT path and pass every AT white blaze. Well, today there remain a few hard noses who can’t (or who refuse to) wrap their heads around the casual “Blue Blazin’ Hobo Hiker Trash” approach. Ahh, but there are fewer and fewer of them!
What a wonderful day I’ve just spent on the AT. As I arrive the Peaks of Otter Overlook Nathan and Kimm are relaxing, enjoying the view across the Meadows of Dan–to the mystic Peaks of Otter…
Far o’er the Peaks of Otter,
Across the Meadows of Dan,
Hark, from afar they beckon–
The mysterious Pipes of Pan.
…and the Pipes [of Pan] were playing softly as they always do
when a man has listened to their music and followed it…