Day 74: Hiking with Owl again and not as much lightning as expected

Miles Hiked: 17.6
Miles Left: 1579.3
Ending Location: Mile 606, VA 605, Hotel La Quinta in Radford VA

The logistics of the day quickly became complicated but the short story was that Owl, Wikipedia, Lorax, Studebaker, her dog Foxy, and myself rented a car from Enterprise so we could slack pack during the day while being able to enjoy hanging out in the college towns of Blacksburg and Radford in the evenings. In a piece of amazing good luck, the car rental place was out of mid sized cars so they upgraded us to a Chevy Tahoe instead. If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s the type of SUV that makes you say ‘Merica when you see it as the term land vehicle might be a better description. Despite the fact that you could fit an entire college football team into one of these things we still somehow managed to fill it up with all of our gear. There were more than a few exclamations stating how amazed we were that we lugged all of that stuff on our backs for the last three months instead.

We split up so that Owl, Studebaker, Foxy, and myself would hike north, pick up the car, and then pick up Wiki and Lorax who would be hiking the section ahead of us. By the time were dropped off at the trailhead it was drizzling pretty good so we donned all our rain gear and headed out. Studebaker warned us that she was slow and then promptly dashed off. Well, actually she just hiked at her normal speed but the results were the same. We didn’t see her again for the rest of our hike but periodically over the next thirty minutes Foxy would come running back, give us a quizzical look as if asking us what we were doing all the way back here, and then sprint back to Stude.

The weather cleared up for a while until the end of the day when it didn’t so much rain as we walked through a cloud and it condensed all around us. It was also at that point that thunder started to roll though so Owl and I separated to “Only one of us is going to die from a single lightning strike” distance and continued on. We eventually descended below the cloud and not only did things dry up, it was as if we had entered the valley of Spring. Throughout most of the hike none of the trees had leaves and things were fairly brown. In this valley through it was filled with wildflowers and green leaves. It reminded me very much of the winter where one side of a mountain would be covered in snow and the other side would be bare.

About the only other thing of note from today’s hike was we encountered a deer graveyard where there were at least seven or eight deer carcasses decomposing. We speculated that was where some of the locals cleaned their kills from illegal poaching so we got out of there pretty quick. Oh, and apparently Stude and Foxy encountered a loose horse on the trail but Foxy chased it off. So if you need to be defended from wild steeds, I know of a dog for you!

We were surprised at the car drop off point by Lorax and Wiki. Apparently they had decided not to hike that day and had just hung out at the hotel instead. We then all piled in to to Tahoe and headed to Sharkey’s in Radford. It should say something of our states of mind that we now don’t even flinch at the notion of going to a resturaunt without showering first. For that matter, Owl and I hadn’t showered in the last six days…. But it was two for one burger night so really it was all about priorities. After that it was back to the hotel where it was two people to a bed with Wiki on the floor and Foxy laying wherever she wanted to. Hey, it was still more spacious than most of the shelter floors we’ve crashed on.

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