Miles Hiked: 11.6
Miles Left: 542.7
Ending Location: US 81, Atkins VA, Rest Inn
Another plus about staying at Partnership shelter was that it was right next to the Mount Rodgers recreation center so in the morning there were heated bathrooms and outlets to plug your phone in, almost like real civilization! The sky had cleared up so it was great hiking weather and while there weren’t many views it was an interesting day. Back in college I had driven along I-81 looking up at those mountains more times than I could count so it was fun to be on the other side of that looking down.
I came across some crazy trail magic at a old schoolhouse museum where I met a couple restocking a hiker box with soda and fruit. They also had another box full of all the miscellaneous knick knacks hikers need like toothpaste and baby wipes. It turns out the husband’s great grandfather was the teacher there and their son had through hiked the AT last year. I congratulated him on continuing his family tradition of making delinquents like us AT hikers enjoy going to school.
Near the end of the day it was slow going. I ended up stopping at a railroad crossing while a train very slowly made its way along it, (hobo opportunity), and then took several stops afterwards to just enjoy the scenery. Also walking through Atkins I of course had to stop by “The Barn” restaurant for a burger. It was filling but considering all the good food I’ve been eating lately I have to say it wasn’t anything special. It’s kind of funny but I’ve actually managed to put a couple of pounds back on over the last week which was good.
I was still chasing Owl so after eating I headed back to the trail to put on a couple more miles but it was getting dark. Hiking through the forest at night hasn’t been a problem in the past since the trail really stands out, (it’s the part without any trees), but this section went through pastures which was problematic. Also I wanted to call my girlfriend and AT&T’s cell signal only extends about three feet from I-81 so after realizing continuing on was stupid I turned around and backtracked for about a mile and stayed at the Rest Inn. Normally I’d make a joke now about how I was roughing it but there were more bugs in that hotel than my tent. Also when I turned on the shower the toilet bubbled… All in all, I’d have to give that hotel a poor Yelp rating. But I was dry and full so I can’t complain too much.