I have enough food to make Waynesboro except for missing one dinner which I can improvise with, but the climbs in the heat of the last few days have all of my clothes pretty filthy. Long distance hikers on the 80 smell pretty bad, but it’s horrible when you can’t stand smelling yourself. I was able to connect with a shuttle from the trailhead, so into Buena Vista I go.
I got up 30 minutes earlier than normal to get a head start to try to make Virginia 60 before it got dark. I packed up quickly and was on the trail by 6:30. The climb out from the shelter was pretty much as I expected. There was level enough terrain and good trees that I could have hammocked anywhere within the first 45 minutes from leaving the shelter, but beyond that point it was too steep and the trees too small really to make any kind of reasonable campsite. So I think the combination of stopping at the campsite and leaving early was the right choice for me.
It took a little over an hour to get to the top of the ridge and there actually was one decent campsite there for a tent and I probably could have made the hammock work. But if I had pushed on an extra half hour in the dark and camped there I would have missed the incredible sunrise that was happening just as I got there. So again I think I made the right choice by staying at the shelter.
Last night wasn’t cold at all; I was actually warm in the sleeping bag and was only half in it for most of the night. It was the first night in a week I didn’t have to wear my gloves either, in fact I didn’t even wear a hat. And even though there was a slightly cool breeze this morning the climb up had me totally soaking in sweat. I had already changed from the long sleeve to the short sleeve and they were both pretty wet at this point.
The ridge kept climbing to higher and higher peaks but the climbs were pretty quick and did get me sweaty each time I encountered one. The peak I arrived at around 11:00 a.m. used to have a fire tower on it. It also had a plaque telling the tale of a four-year-old that wandered away from the schoolyard in 1890 and ended up on this mountain top 7 miles away. It seemed like the perfect place to stop and have first lunch other than the eerie consequences for the small boy 130 years ago.
The morning climbing along the first ridge the trail started descending very gently. Most of the midday was really gentle trail in a mix of hardwoods and pines and actually seemed a little familiar. I came upon a suspension bridge that I remember vividly from 10 years ago that I camped under with two other hikers. The vivid part is that I got poison ivy. When I crossed the bridge I walked underneath it just to check out the vegetation around there to see if it was still poison ivy and I actually couldn’t find any. So yay.
After the bridge the trail climbs around the edge of the Lynchburg reservoir and I remember that part vividly too. Past the reservoir the trail travels along Brown Mountain Creek. This creek was settled by free slaves after the civil war and they had signage telling little stories about the settlement. You could still see a lot of stone fences and a few remains of houses mostly being fireplaces. The signs talked about the crops they grew and how they got paid and how they made a living. This would be the last water for a while so I filled up both liter bottles and also my Coke bottle with two coffee packets in it to have ready for tomorrow or for use if I needed them later in the day.
At this point I was only 2 miles from Virginia 60 which leads into Buena Vista. It was about 4:15 so I should hit the highway within the hour. The trail climbs from the creek up to the highway which is kind of odd for trails going to a highway usually always go down. So it took a little longer than I thought but I was there shortly after 5:15 or so.
Since I had been climbing out of a ravine where the creek was I had assumed that I would not be able to get a cell signal since I had not had one for hours. I was surprised to find that I got three bars up at the highway. I was also surprised to see a business card for a shuttle driver in Buena Vista. I was dripping wet and stinky so I called the shuttle driver and arranged to be picked up in 20 minutes or so. I then called the only hotel in town to make sure they had rooms and they did so I was set. I mainly wanted to stay in the hotel because they have laundry. The only other place to stay in town is the campground which has showers but no laundry. There is a laundromat in town but it would require walking at least a mile from the campground so I was happy to be able to get a room in the hotel.
Since I had a while before the shuttle driver was to arrive I went ahead and cleaned up a little bit tried to wipe the sweat off my body with my handkerchief. I then changed into my sleeping shirt because I needed to keep my town shirt clean for after showering and doing my chores in town.
After over 30 minutes I was getting kind of nervous that maybe the shuttle driver wasn’t going to arrive. There was a decent amount of traffic going towards town and several pickup trucks so I probably could have hitched if I had to but I decided to just sit tight and be patient. After about 35 minutes the shuttle driver arrived and soon after starting down the mountain I realized why he was so late. It’s a 10 mile drive but he was only driving 30 miles an hour. Now I know what to expect.
I enjoyed talking with the shuttle driver on the way down. He’s been doing this for over 15 years and he had a lot of interesting stories to tell about both the trail, the forest service, service and the town.
After he dropped me off at the hotel I arranged to have a morning pick up return trip and then I checked in. The first order of business is showering. My feet had gotten the filthiest they’ve been on the trail in weeks. It has been 5 days on trail but that’s not unusual. Next order of business was checking my food supply to see what I needed to purchase. Since I would eat dinner here really the only thing I was lacking is a breakfast for tomorrow and two more breakfasts.
With my shopping list in hand I headed towards town to check out either the Chinese restaurant or the Italian restaurant. They both had similar ratings but since I haven’t eaten Chinese in a long time I decided to go there. It was okay but not outstanding. On the way back I stopped at both the Family Dollar and the Exxon picking through the selections they had for breakfast. I’ll eat the heavier things in the morning and pack out the lighter ones for the next 2 and a half days. I only have Thursday, Friday, and Saturday until 3:00 left to hike the last 55 miles to the trailhead in Waynesboro. I will have to hike a minimum of 20 to 22 mi for the next 2 days to make sure I have enough time to finish on Saturday before 3:00. That should be doable.