My sister and her husband are flying into Charleston, WV, today, and we decided that it would be easiest for all parties concerned for them to drive down I-77 and pick me up in Bland, VA. Bland is only 11.3 miles from the Jenkins Shelter, so my mission today was to get to Bland by 1:00 pm.
Thankfully, the trail today was everything that I had hoped for it to be yesterday. Smooth, with small climbs, this trail was built for speed! I was chugging up a small climb and passed a woman who was sitting on a rock by the side of the trail. As I passed she said hello and asked me how it was going. Still chugging along, I replied, “I think I can! I think I can!” She laughed heartily.
Approaching Bland, I caught a glimpse of I-77. I have been down that highway several dozen times in my life to visit my grandparents who lived in Beckley, WV. It was a bittersweet moment for me, having walked to a spot that normally takes 11 hours to drive, and knowing that my grandparents weren’t alive to see it. I feel like they would have been pretty proud of me.
I arrived where the A.T. joins US 52, just 3 hours and 45 minutes from the time I started hiking this morning. With an hour or so to kill, I decided to try to get to Bland (2.5 miles away) to get something to eat. I called the local hostel to arrange for a shuttle, but the price he quoted was so outrageous that I declined. In the time I had been sitting there, only eight cars had passed (all going away from town), so it looked like it would be a tough hitchhike. About that time, the woman I had chugged past on the trail arrived, said that her husband was minutes away, and ask me if I wanted a ride to town. Yes!
My trail angel’s name is Critter and she regularly section hikes the A.T. When her husband arrived, I found out that she got her trail name from the fact that she has two small rescue dogs and usually takes one of them hiking with her to relieve their separation anxiety. So not only did I get a ride to town, but I also got some long overdue due puppy love! She and her husband graciously deposited me in front of the Dairy Queen. Thank you Critter!
After inhaling a double cheeseburger, fries, and a gallon of Root Beer, I went outside to await the arrival of my sister and her husband. They arrived shortly (I told them to look for the homeless looking character sitting against the side of the building) and, after hugs, they said they were hungry, so I accompanied them back inside the DQ for round two. After all, who goes to the DQ without getting ice cream?
Soon we were off to White Sulphur Springs, WV, for a never to be forgotten zero at the Greenbrier Hotel.